Christians were the magority of Egypt's population until the Middle Ages. Today they constitute approximately 10 percent of Egypt's population and have played a significant role in Egypt's culture over the centuries.
Egypt plays a significant role in the history of Christianity. The country is first mentioned as early as Genesis 12, and Saint Mark the Apostle and Evangelist established the Church of Alexandria in about 55 AD. The Coptic Orthodox Church (to which most Egyptian Christians belong) is one of the five most ancient churches in the world. Today the Copts boast approximately 12 million faithful in Egypt (accounting for approximately 10% of the population) and are led by Pope Tawadros li. Egypt is also home to a diverse assortment of other Christian groups, including Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Maronite, Orthodox, and Anglican adherents.
But all is not well in this historic center of Christianity. On August 2014, religious agitators launched a coordinated series of attacks on Copts and their property, killing several Copts and damaging more than 200 Christian churches, homes, and businesses. Sadly, these are only a handful of examples of the violence Copts and others have endured in recent years.
Copts and other Egyptian Christians have played a vital cultural role in the history and formation of Egypt. While the new Egyptian constitution guarantees that "freedom of belief is absolute," and that freedom to practice religious rituals and establish places of worship is guaranteed for the Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, the nation has a long way to go before this ideal becomes a reality.
Iran has had a Christian community for nearly 2,000 years, but it has always a minority religion. While the Iranian regime officially guarantees the recognized Christian minorities certain rights, numerous persecutions against Christians have been documented.
The Christians of the Holy Land spring from the disciples of Jesus. Though in recent decades their numbers have dwindled, they remain vibrant and play a key role in promoting dialogue and peace.
In addition to Israel and the Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, Jordan's Christian community is ancient. Christians there enjoy equality in a way not always evident elsewhere in the region.
As in Judaism and Islam, the Holy Land is central to the Christian faith. While Jews and Muslims make up the largest faith groups in the Holy Land, the Christian community remains essential. It is home to the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic patriarchal churches of Jerusalem as well as Armenian, Coptic, Chaldean. Greek Melkite, Latin, Maronite and Syriac Catholics and other evangelical and Orthodox communities.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, whose monarch is a descendant of Muhammad. has been a refuge and haven for Christians fleeing religious persecution in the Middle East for decades.
Iraq's Christian community is predominantly Chaldean and Assyrian, ancient peoples who were among the first to become Christians. Since 2003, Iraqi Christians have been subject to terrible persecution. Since that time, Iraq's Christian population has fallen from one million to approximately 400,000.
Iraq is home to one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world. Liturgies in Iraq are often conducted in Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus Christ. Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac Christians in Iraq struggle to survive. Iraq's role in biblical history is unmistakable; many locations mentioned in the Bible are in modern day Iraq. Church tradition has it that Christianity came to Iraq in the first century through the apostles Thomas and Thaddaeus. Since then, Christians have played a central role in Iraq's history, particularly in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain.
Sadly, Christians in Iraq are facing increasingly bleak prospects. Since 2003, the number of Christians in Iraq has been greatly reduced. Prior to this time, Christians in Iraq numbered over one million; today that number is estimated at 400,000, and it may be as low as 200,000.
Lebanon is an ancient land with a thriving Christian community, dating to the first century, when Christ is said to have traveled there. Over the centuries, Christianity in Lebanon has thrived in its cities and survived persecution in its monastic retreats.
Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians of all the nations in the Middle East. Estimates suggest that more than one-third of Lebanon's population is Christian. Half of the country's Members of Parliament are Christian.
Christianity in Lebanon dates back to biblical times, when Jesus Christ is said to have visited the region and performed many miracles. The Maronite Church is the largest, followed by the Greek Orthodox Church. The rest of the.Christian community is comprised of a diverse array of Me!kites, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Assyrians, Armenian Apostolic, and Armenian Catholics.
Christianity in Syria, as with many of the ancient communities of the Eastern Mediterranean, dates to the first century. Syrian Christians have a proud cultural heritage and have suffered along with all Syrians in the conflict that rages there today.
Syria's Christian communities date to the first century. The ancient city of Damascus, as well as other locations in Syria, are mentioned often in the scriptures. Today Christians form approximately 10% of the population of Syria, where they play an important role in civil society. The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch claims the largest number of adherents, but the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Oriental Syriac Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, and various Protestant denominations all have a strong presence in Syria as well.