Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Blog

Arab Americans are all too familiar with the plight of Arab Christians as a result of political unrest and violence plaguing the Middle East. From the occupation in Palestine, to unrest in Egypt, to the war in Syria, to perpetual violence in Iraq, Christian populations in the region are dwindling at a rapid rate. Yet, despite the situation on the ground, the issue receives little attention from the U.S. public, American lawmakers, and the international community. All too often, as AAI president Jim Zogby explains in a column, “Invisible Victims,” some Americans are not even aware that Arab Christians even exist. When U.S. lawmakers do weigh in on the situation facing Christians in the Middle East, they too often view the crisis through a narrow scope and neglect the nuances of the issue. Many are quick to place blame for the decline of Christian populations in the region solely on discrimination by Muslims.

But during a number of speaking engagements over the past two days, Jim Zogby and Villanova Political Science professor and AAI National Policy Council member Marwan Kreidie, along with other experts on the Middle East, have offered a more in-depth analysis of the conditions facing Christians in the region. Yesterday, Zogby joined Hisham Melhem, Washington Bureau chief of Al Arabiya on Philly-based whyy's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane to discuss the topic for a full hour. Later in the day, Kreidie joined a panel at the Center for American Progress to keep the conversation going. And today, Zogby spoke on the first panel of a two-part conference at Villanova University entitled “Middle East Christian Communities at a Time of Change.”

AAI has held events about this important issue on Capitol Hill. In 2012, we hosted a briefing for congressional staffers entitled “Religious Plurality in the Middle East.” Hopefully the events of the last two days will help spark a more lengthy and substantive discussion about the complexities of the challenges Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East face. However, as we discuss how to protect these communities, we still have to do more to raise awareness about the nuance of the challenges they face. 

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