Christians Forced Into the Dictators' Fold

Christians Forced Into the Dictators' Fold

The recent violence in Egypt between Copts and the Egyptian army, with its sectarian overtones, poured ice on the high expectations surrounding the Arab intifadas. Arab Christians in particular are worried about the future, and their anxieties are colouring their interpretation of the repression all over.

For Christians in the Levant and Iraq, communal security in recent decades has involved a static reading of political affairs. As a minority, they have feared that change might threaten the stability that was buying them respite. That is why Christians tended to be on good terms with the autocrats, whether under the Assad regime in Syria, which is led by minority Alawites, or the previous regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, led by minority Sunnis. This was true even if it led to charges from their more assertive brethren elsewhere that this exemplified the submissiveness of dhimmis - minorities protected under Islam.

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