"Research showing Christianity is now the most widely persecuted religious group in the world should be an urgent wake-up call to all who value the principles of religious freedom and tolerance enshrined in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 65 years ago this month. Indeed, Christianity could, after 2000 years, be facing extinction in its birthplace the Middle East... In Egypt, home to what was once a stable Coptic Christian community, but now besieged by Islamic extremism, 207 churches have been attacked this year and 43 destroyed. Previously thriving Christian communities are under siege everywhere - from Syria, where 450,000 Christians have fled the civil war, to Iraq, where a Christian community of one million has been decimated and now numbers barely 200,000, and on to Iran, where hundreds of Christians have been incarcerated and churches open at their peril." (A grim outlook for Christianity, editorial, The Australian, 26/12/13)
Got the picture?
Christians are doing it tough just about everywhere in the Middle East, except, it seems, in occupied Palestine.
I say 'it seems' because curiously Palestinian Christians are nowhere mentioned in The Australian's editorial.
As it happens though, they did get a mention on page 6 of the same edition:
"Nowhere has the impact of Israeli settlements and their growth been as keenly felt by so many Palestinians as in Bethlehem. The birthplace of Jesus Christ finds itself hemmed in on all sides by 22 Israeli settlements, the bypass roads that feed them and the 8m-high 'separation barrier' that snakes around its northern and western sides, cutting off its twin holy city of Jerusalem. 'Our little town has become even smaller due to the continued expansion of Israeli settlements,' Vera Baboun, Bethlehem's mayor, said in a Christmas message appealing to the world to heed their plight. Bethlehem has become more densely populated than Gaza, despite a steady exodus of wealthier residents, mostly Christians, anxious to escape what the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called 'a choking reality'." ('Choking reality' haunts holy city, Catherine Philp, The Times/The Australian)
Isn't it funny how the choking of Bethlehem didn't make it into the editorial... even when it was going on on page 6 of the same paper?! Work that one out.