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 Christians in Holy Land, Mideast Celebrate Easter

استعرض الموضوع السابق استعرض الموضوع التالي اذهب الى الأسفل 
كاتب الموضوعرسالة
Dr.Hannani Maya
المشرف العام
المشرف العام

الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 40334
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
التوقيت :

مُساهمةموضوع: رد: Christians in Holy Land, Mideast Celebrate Easter   الثلاثاء 02 أبريل 2013, 00:13

Christians in Holy Land, Mideast
Celebrate Easter

Christians pray during Easter mass at Mar Youssif Chaldean Church in Baghdad,
Iraq, Sunday, March 31, 2013. The Chaldean Church is an Eastern Rite church
affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)

Christians pray during Easter mass at Mar Youssif Chaldean Church in Baghdad,
Iraq, Sunday, March 31, 2013. The Chaldean Church is an Eastern Rite church
affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)

JERUSALEM (AP): Catholics and
Protestants flocked to churches to celebrate Easter on Sunday in the Holy Land
and across the broader Middle East, praying, singing and rejoicing as a new pope
pleaded for peace in the region.
Some Mideast Christian communities are in flux,
while others feel isolated from their Muslim-majority societies. In places like
Iraq, they have sometimes been the victims of bloody sectarian attacks.
At St. Joseph Chaldean Church in Baghdad, some 200
worshippers attended an Easter mass that the Rev. Saad Sirop led behind concrete
blast walls and a tight security cordon. Churches have been under tighter
security since a 2010 attack killed dozens.
We pray for love and peace to spread through the
world," said worshipper Fatin Yousef, 49, who arrived immaculately dressed for
the holiday. She wore a black skirt, low-heeled pumps and a striped shirt and
her hair tumbled in salon-created curls.
It was the first Easter since the election of Pope
Francis and she and others expressed hope in their new spiritual leader. "We
hope Pope Francis will help make it better for Christians in Iraq," she
The pope spoke of the Middle East in his first
Easter message, pleading for Israelis and Palestinians to resume negotiations to
"end a conflict that has lasted all too long."
He also called for peace in Iraq and in Syria.
"How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before
a political solution to the crisis will be found?" Francis asked.
In Jerusalem, Catholics worshipped in the church
of the Holy Sepulcher, built on a hill where tradition holds that Jesus was
crucified, briefly entombed and then resurrected. The cavernous, maze-like
structure is home to different churches belonging to rival sects that are
crammed into different nooks and even the roof.
Clergy in white and gold
robes led the service held around the Edicule, the small chamber at the core of
the church marking the site of Jesus' tomb. Many foreign visitors were among the
It's very special," said Arthur Stanton, a
visitor from Australia. "It represents the reason why we were put on this
planet, and the salvation that has come to us through Jesus."
Israel's Tourism Ministry said it expects some
150,000 visitors during holy week and the Jewish festival of Passover, which
coincide this year. It is one of the busiest times of the year for the local
tourism industry.
Protestants held Easter ceremonies outside
Jerusalem's walled Old City at the Garden Tomb, a small, enclosed green area
that some identify as the site of Jesus' burial. Another service was held at the
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace.
Catholics and Protestants, who follow the new,
Gregorian calendar, celebrate Easter on Sunday. Orthodox Christians, who follow
the old, Julian calendar, will mark it in May.
There are no precise numbers on how many
Christians there are in the Middle East. Census figures showing the size of
religious and ethnic groups are hard to obtain.
Christian populations are thought to be shrinking
or at least growing more slowly than their Muslim compatriots in much of the
Middle East, largely due to emigration as they leave for better opportunities
and to join families abroad. Some feel more uncomfortable amid growing Muslim
majorities that they see as becoming more outwardly pious and politically
Islamist over the decades.
The situation for some Mideast Christians is in
In Syria, Christians, who make up some 10 percent
of the country's 23 million people, have mostly stayed on the sidelines of the
two-year civil war. While outraged by the regime of Bashar Assad's brutal
efforts to quash the opposition, they are equally frightened by the Islamist
rhetoric of many rebels and their heavy reliance on extremist fighters.
Christians make up some 10 percent of Egypt's 85
million people. Human rights groups say the police under former authoritarian
leader Hosni Mubarak rarely took the needed steps to prevent flare-ups of
violence against Christians, a situation that persisted since he was overthrown
in 2011. The rise of Islamists in Egypt has emboldened extremists to target
churches and Coptic property, leading to a spike in attacks and sometimes
unprecedented steps like the evacuation of entire Christian populations from
In Libya, most Christians are Egyptian laborers
who are working in the oil-rich country. Tensions rose last month after
assailants torched a church in the eastern city of Benghazi and militias
arrested some 100 Christians, mostly Egyptian, accusing them of
In Iraq, Christians have suffered repeated attacks
by Islamic militants since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and hundreds of thousands
have left the country. Church officials estimate that the Christian communities
have shrunk by at least half. The worst attack was at Baghdad's soaring Our Lady
of Salvation church in October 2010 that killed more than 50 worshippers and
wounded scores of others.
There currently are an estimated 400,000 to
600,000 Christians in Iraq, with most belonging to ancient eastern churches.
Some two-thirds of Iraq's Christians are Catholics of the Chaldean church and
the smaller Assyrian Catholic church. Members of both churches chant in dialects
of ancient Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.
Yousef, the worshipper in Baghdad, said lingering
fear pushed her to send her son to live with relatives in Arizona last year.
Yousef said she was arranging for her other daughter and son to
There's still fear here, and there's no stability
in this country," she said.
Iraqi officials have made efforts to secure
churches since the violence of 2010.
High blast walls topped with wire
netting and barbed wire surrounded the St. Joseph Church in Baghdad's
middle-class district of Karradeh. Four Iraqi Christian volunteers stood at the
church entrance, double-checking the people entering. And blue-khaki clad Iraqi
police guarded roads surrounding the church and checked papers of passers-by as
worshippers filed inside.
White-robed church volunteers marched down the
church aisle behind Father Sirop, who waved incense and chanted in the
white-painted church adorned with three ornate chandeliers and a series of
simple paintings illustrating the life of Christ.
Worshippers stood for lengthy passages of Sirop's
mass, at one point bursting into applause when he told them, "Celebrate! You are
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Christians in Holy Land, Mideast Celebrate Easter
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