Vanishing Christians of the Middle East

Linda Dorigo and Andrea Milluzzi “Rifugio: Christians of the Middle East” [Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam, 2015].
Rifugio
“These photographs from Linda Dorigo and Andrea Milluzzi, Italian journalists working in the Middle East, give faces to these living stones, away from touristic locations. Their new book – poignantly titled Rifugio (“refuge” or “shelter”) – is a visual record of those who have, through poverty or defiance, refused to become a part of the Christian diaspora and now struggle to live out their faith in an increasingly inhospitable land. “During New Year’s evening Mass in 2011, an explosion destroyed the Saints Church in Alexandria [in Egypt]. Twenty-one Christians died. The story appeared in western newspapers and on television, but, after a few days, the media’s attention faded. We felt the need to know more. So we left to discover stories, families and villages in their everyday lives. We were looking for the heirs of the evangelists and the first pilgrims,” they explain.

Ani, Turkey. Ani is the ancient capital of the Armenian empire, situated at the closed border between Armenia and Turkey. Nowadays Ani is a stack of churches' ruins, homes and the Cathedral. August 2013.

Ani, Turkey. Ani is the ancient capital of the Armenian empire, situated at the closed border between Armenia and Turkey. Nowadays Ani is a stack of churches’ ruins, homes and the Cathedral. August 2013.


When the US launched its invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were 1.5 million Christians living in the country. Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, was a Christian – demonstrating the relative religious tolerance under that regime. But, by igniting sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias, the US invasion was a disaster for indigenous Christians, who Muslims associated with the hated crusaders. Now Christians are being slaughtered by Islamic State. Between 2003 and now, three quarters of Iraq’s Christians have been driven from their homes or killed. It’s a story that has repeated itself throughout the Middle East, although, to be fair, it long pre-dates the US invasion. When, a century ago, the Ottomans drove Armenian Christians from Turkey into the Syrian desert to die of starvation, there was a 13% Christian presence in Turkey. Now, they have been all but wiped out. In Egypt, some 600,000 Christians have left during the past 30 years.”
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/16/christians-middle-east-religion-islamic-state-linda-dorigo-andrea-milluzzi
Saint Taddeus monastery, Iran. The yearly Armenian pilgrimage. July 2011

Saint Taddeus monastery, Iran. The yearly Armenian pilgrimage. July 2011


“The birthplace of Christianity lies on the Iranian slopes from Mount Ararat to Mount Lebanon. Since those ancient times, the rugged valleys and gorges have served as a refuge for monastic communities and those in search of solitude. Nowadays, 12 million Christians are assumed to live in the Middle East, but only a few of them remain to live in the region because of radical Islam and persecutions; millions have relocated to North America, Europe and Australia. Linda Dorigo and Andrea Milluzzi travelled through Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Turkey and Syria. They were driven towards the small Christian communities that choose to not be part of the diaspora. While the Middle East was being turned upside-down by revolutions and by a fractured war inside Islam, Christians became a religious minority, disillusioned witnesses closed in their self-defence. The recent developments in the Middle East, including the horrific cruelties perpetrated predominantly against Christians by Islamic State, makes Rifugio an essential document for all those interested in world politics.”
http://www.amazon.com/Rifugio-Christians-Middle-Linda-Dorigo/dp/9053308431
Vanished christians

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