Christianity in the Arab world

Christians of Arabic speaking backgrounds come from diverse countries and represent diverse ethnic communities, with some also identifying as distinct ethnic groups. For example, the Christians of Iraq, by and large, represent the Chaldo-Assyrian ethnic communities of Iraq, they speak both Assyrian and Arabic and do not identify as Arabs. Similarly, many Egyptian Coptic Christians, although they primarily speak Arabic, may not identify as Arabs; and some Maronite Christians from Lebanon, although Arabic speakers, often do not identify as Arabs, but as descendants of the ancient Phoenicians.

Fundamental to our understanding of Christians of Arabic speaking backgrounds is not only the issue of their ethnic diversity but the distinct differences of the Christian churches in the Arab world.

It is important to note that the Christian churches of the Arabic speaking world are the world’s first Christian churches and predate both the arrival of the Arabs and the rise of Islam in the Middle East. Today, Christians represent decreasing numbers of people in the Arab world as a result of growing Islamic fundamentalism and extremism which has led to their persecution and forced exile. Consequently, large numbers of Australia’s refugees who have arrived, and continue arriving, from the Middle East, are greatly represented by Christians.

Further Reading & Materials