Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad on Saturday told a conference in Damascus that Israel and its international partners are working to displace Christians across the Middle East.
“The displacement of Christians is a main goal for the external schemes for the region, but it is mainly an Israeli goal,” Assad told the International Ecclesiastical Conference.
He said this was part of a larger scheme to divide the Middle East into sectarian states among which Israel, as a Jewish state, would more naturally fit.
For instance, if there were to be an independent Kurdish state and Lebanon were to revert to being predominantly Christian, the Middle East could no longer be said to be an entirely “Arab Muslim” region. Amidst this constellation, which also includes Turkey and Persian Iran, a Jewish state wouldn’t seem so out of place.
Against this, insisted Assad, his and other regional powers must fight by maintaining the dominance of Arab Muslims ruling a diverse collection of ethnic and religious minorities.
The Syrian leader went on to claim that his country remains a true home for Christians. But that assertion is not supported by facts on the ground.
In 2011, Syria was still home to a large Christian population of 2.2 million. But that number has dropped dramatically in the past decade, and today just 677,000 Christians live there.
That according to the World Christian Persecution Index published by Open Doors, which also ranked Syria the 15th worst place in the world for Christians to live, primarily due to “Islamic oppression.”
Ironically, and quite contrary to the claims of Assad, the Jewish State of Israel is the one place in the Middle East where the Christian population is both growing and thriving.
And local Christians are responding in kind by helping to defend the Jewish state and fully integrate into Israeli society.
In fact, and perhaps inadvertently, Israel recently referred to Christians as effectively “part of the family.”
So, no, Israel isn’t working to displace Christians in the Middle East. If anything, the Jewish state would like to see Christianity grow and flourish in a hostile Muslim region.