Los cristianos en el mundo árabe: una especie en extinción

PRINCETON – En estas Navidades, como en todas, miles de peregrinos y turistas viajarán a Oriente Medio para celebrar las fiestas en la tierra de la Biblia. En Belén, lugar de nacimiento de Jesús, el Patriarca Latino de Jerusalén celebrará la Misa del Gallo, mientras en Siria, donde algunos cristianos hablan todavía dialectos del arameo, similares a la antigua lengua que hablaba Jesús, es probable que las celebraciones estén amortiguadas, limitadas por los peligros de una guerra que está destrozando el país.

En un momento en el que Oriente Medio está en llamas con una guerra sectaria, la observancia de la fiesta cristiana es un triste recordatorio de que la diversidad religiosa, étnica y cultural distintiva está desapareciendo rápidamente. Al comienzo del siglo XX, los cristianos representaban el 20 por ciento, aproximadamente, del mundo árabe. En ciertas zonas, incluidos el Egipto meridional, las montañas del Líbano y la Anatolia sudoriental, constituían una mayoría absoluta. Actualmente, tan sólo el cinco por ciento del mundo árabe es cristiano y muchos de los que quedan lo están abandonando, forzados por la persecución y la guerra.

También los judíos, que en tiempos tenían una presencia muy viva en ciudades como El Cairo, Damasco y Bagdad, han desparecido prácticamente de las partes predominantemente musulmanas de Oriente Medio y se han trasladado a Israel, Europa y Norteamérica. Incluso en las comunidades musulmanas, la diversidad ha ido disminuyendo. En ciudades como Beirut y Bagdad, los barrios mixtos se han ido homogeneizando, a medida que los suníes y los chiíes buscan refugio frente a los ataques sectarios y la guerra civil.

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