Les chrétiens en voie de disparition dans le monde arabe

PRINCETON – Cette année, comme chaque année, des milliers de pèlerins et de touristes vont se rendre au Proche-Orient pour célébrer Noël au pays de la Bible. À Bethléem, le lieu de naissance de Jésus, le Patriarche Latin de Jérusalem donnera une messe de minuit, alors qu'en Syrie (où certains chrétiens parlent encore des dialectes issus de l'araméen, l'ancienne langue de Jésus) les cérémonies risquent de se faire plus discrètes, voire d'être interrompues par les dangers d'une guerre qui déchire le pays.

À l'heure où le Moyen-Orient est aux prises avec des conflits intercommunautaires, la célébration de la fête chrétienne rappelle tristement à quel point la diversité religieuse, ethnique et culturelle distinctive de la région disparaît rapidement. Au début du XXème siècle, les chrétiens représentaient environ 20% du monde arabe. Dans certaines zones (au Sud de l''Egypte, dans les montagnes du Liban et dans le Sud-Est de l'Anatolie), ils ont formé une majorité absolue. Aujourd'hui, seulement 5% du monde arabe est chrétien et beaucoup de ceux qui restent sont en train de le quitter, chassés par les persécutions et la guerre.

Les Juifs, qui représentaient autrefois eux aussi une présence vitale dans des villes comme le Caire, Damas et Bagdad, ont tous disparu des régions majoritairement musulmanes du Moyen-Orient. Ils se sont installés en Israël, en Europe et en Amérique du Nord. Même dans les communautés musulmanes, la diversité est en baisse. Dans des villes comme Bagdad et Beyrouth, les quartiers mixtes ont été homogénéisés, les sunnites et les chiites cherchent à se protéger des attaques intercommunautaires et de la guerre civile.

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