As Orthodox Christians mark Christmas, Mideast churches fear for future

( As Orthodox Christians around the world marked their Christmas celebrations on Jan. 7, Christians in the Middle East are increasingly fearful for their future.

Celebrating his first Christmas mass as Pope, Egypt’s Pope Tawadros II urged his congregants “not to be afraid” as he tried to reassure his anxious community over the rising tide of Islamism in post-revolutionary Egypt.

“During the reign of (ousted President Hosni) Mubarak and the (military rulers), mainly Christians were facing problems, but now with the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, each and every moderate Egyptian is facing problems,’’ said Amir Ramzy, a Coptic Christian and a judge, the Associated Press reported.

Some have dubbed the latest threats to Mideast Christians as the “Christian winter” and have lambasted the Christian-majority West for doing little to come to the aid of their Christian brethren.

“The religious ecology of the Middle East looks more fragile than ever, as the Arab spring gives way to Christian winter. Ignorant western assumptions about cultural uniformity are mirrored by Islamists bent on purging other faith groups from their lands,” wrote The Guardian’s Rupert Shortt.

“The truth, of course, is that Christianity is an import from the Middle East, not an export to it,” Shortt added.

Posted on January 7, 2013 .