Sunday, March 28, 2004

Tacitus and Arab Christians

Tacitus, referring to a recent trip to the Middle East, says:

"One of the strange things I noticed when speaking to local Christians in Jordan and Israel was the tendency, whever the subject turned to the subjects of jihad, dhimmi, the Crusades or Israel, for those Christians to swiftly emphasize one of two points: local Muslims gave them no problems, and they too had suffered at the hands of -- and most importantly, actively opposed -- the Crusaders and Zionists."

Why should this be considered strange? This is more or less what I've heard from all Arab Christians, both in the U.S. and while overseas. Certainly the Arab-Israeli conflict affects nationalistic sentiments as much as anything else, and the Crusaders' hostile attitude toward the Monophysites is well known. Ther former two I've never really discussed with an Arab Christian, but in the modern world would be mainly associated with Islamic militants who desire to create a world that seldom existed even in the medieval period. This of course does not mean that there is no official discrimination against other non-Muslim religions, especially with regard to conversion, and certainly in some places Islamic militancy is a force powerful enough to affect people's personal security. But judging from his post title ("Stockholm Syndrome"), it sounds like Tacitus was expecting universal religious hostility or something. Still, I look forward to reading his complete write-up so as to fully understand his thought and evidence on the matter.


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