Raids by the regime, Russian attacks and the war against the Islamic State: a Syrian journalist recounts the terror of civilians trapped in the crossfire
From Camp Bucca to Paris, prison cells have often served as "incubators" of jihad – European governments are activating programmes to prevent petty criminals from turning into terrorists in prison
Who are AQIM and the Murabitun – at the origin of the attack in Burkina Faso
This edition of Oasis is dedicated to the Christians of the East and to what they have meant and mean, both for the Church and for the world. For the Church because the testimony that they give today (not infrequently to the point of martyrdom) constitutes a challenge to all believers, as Cardinal Scola reminds us in h...
There is only one word capable of capturing what is happening to the Christians in the Middle East: martyrdom. The unarmed witness exposes the jihadist’s counter-testimony and reveals the virus that has destroyed whole countries, from Syria to Iraq: the quest for victory at any price through the annihilation of those who are different. Distracted and narcissistically self-absorbed for far too long, Europe now is powerless.
A look at the history of Christians in the Arab world shows a fruitful dialectic between rootedness in their own tradition and openness to other cultures. High points have been the creation of an interreligious humanism in tenth-century Baghdad and the ecclesial renewal during the Catholic Reformation that paved the way for the Arab awakening. Today, as previously, however, such interaction is only possible when Muslim regimes are open to otherness and not caught up in an introverted and obsessive sectarianism.
After millenary divisions, Christians in the Middle East are growing increasingly aware that the instances of persecution hitting them today can also constitute a providential opportunity to advance towards the unity that has been so long awaited. Patriarch Sako’s shock proposal to re-unite the Chaldean Church, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East is a step in this direction. As is the idea of establishing a shared feast day for all the martyrs from the Churches of the East.
Currently targeted by ISIS’s militias, the Christian presence in Iraq goes back to the time of the apostles. Over the centuries, it has demonstrated an extraordinary perseverance in the faith and proclaimed the Gospel to the farthest reaches of Asia. From the fifteenth century onwards, its various branches have alternatingly established ties with Rome before reaching the current tripartition into the Chaldean Church, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East. A division that, if not healed, risks turning into a slow death.
The failure of the imposing movement for democracy and citizenship that began with the revolution in January 2011 leaves Egypt disillusioned by the return to the old, ultra-nationalist and securitarian practices of a state brought to its knees by Islamist violence. Will the new power and the Muslim and Christian institutions have the lucidity and ability to exorcise their communities’ old demons and give the people reasons to hope before too long?
According to the patriarch of the Maronites, Middle Eastern Christians are paying the price of the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi‘ites. Lebanon has not yet descended into open warfare, but Christian politicians have allowed themselves to be drawn into the sectarian rivalry that threatens the very existence of the country and its formula. The situation is worsened by the devastating effects of the war in Syria and the unmanageable influx of refugees. Lebanon need to be saved so that it can fulfill its historic mission.
During the time of the Crusades, Eastern Christians were already split between belonging to their community and belonging to the broader collectivity in which they lived. A division that still exists today: whether the preference is for the former or the latter depends on the person with whom one is speaking and the form of Islam in which Eastern Christians are immersed. In reality, however, the two identities are inseparable and complementary. Only states founded on the rule of law will be able to guarantee their survival in contexts that are authentically plural in the Middle East.
In June 2015, the Islamic charitable association Maqāsid promoted the drafting of the Beirut Declaration, a document that aims to counter religious violence and promote an enlightened interpretation of Islamic culture. One of the contributors condemns the subversive rhetoric used by extremists against both Christians and Muslims. His position is born out of a conciliatory interpretation of Islam, and the belief that Muslims need Christians (and vice versa) in order to survive.
The treatment reserved by the Islamic State to the Christian minorities is indicative of the type of relationship that the “Caliphate” enters into with its own ideological points of reference: apparently an intransigent application of sharia but, in reality, a selective and sometimes delirious interpretation that is directed at presenting itself as the absolute and eschatological alternative to the West, in keeping with the purest of “friend-enemy” dialectics. Medieval theocracy espouses modern totalitarianism and gives itself over to the will to power.
The conception of power as mulk or ownership of a person, tribe or denomination has led to the destruction that is under our noses, what with the world powers’ blindness and the local players’ unscrupulousness. The violence is hitting everyone indiscriminately but is reaching genocidal proportions in some communities. A turning point will come only with a form of democracy that citizenship rights and, at the same time, guarantees forms of representation for community spaces.
A curious-minded vizier who delights in theology, a learned bishop steeped in both Syriac and Arab culture and oceans of time to discuss things together in the Upper Mesopotamia of a thousand years ago. This rare conjunction gave birth to one of the most fascinating works of Christian Arab literature, The Book of Dialogues, by Elias of Nisibis.
The text of the impassioned and no-allowances-made conversation between Abū ’l-Qāsim al-Maghribī and Elias, a monk and bishop of Nisibis, reveals the depth that a dialogue on fundamental theological issues can achieve. And it permits us to understand the precious role played by Christian theologians and philosophers who were able to explain their own faith, also by having recourse to Islam’s categories of thought. A role of mediators that, with the Christians’ exodus from the Middle East, risks being lost forever1.
With whole communities of persecuted Christians fleeing north, a bit of Middle East has been transplanted in Sweden. There, amidst surprising opportunities and risks of “rejection”, something is happening: a reciprocal contagion and a greater realization, on the part of the refugees, not only of the value of their bimillenary traditions risking extinction but also of the openings for something new to be born. Particularly in a small town to the south of Stockholm where a third of the population is now made up of Eastern Christians.
Why the tribes that defeated al-Qaeda in 2007 are now struggling to oppose Isis
The deal reached in December is an important step that allows to understand who is working for and who is against a political resolution
They may share the same ideology, but Islamic State’s raison d'être is to remake the world by restoring the "caliphate". The 47 executions and Riyadh's fears