By Yosef Gad, Linga
Some differentiate between Arabism and Arab Nationalism; they say that Arabism is to be ascribed to Arabs, meaning it is possible for an Islamist to be Arab and for a Marxist to be Arab, since Arabism separated from politics is merely a sense of belonging. Some define Nationalism as the nation descendant of one grandfather. With the historical development, the term nationalism has drifted away from its linguistic roots; it has become closer to the concept of a nation, and has further developed a political connotation. Some use the word Arabism as a synonym to Arab nationalism; others call to separate the two terms to help demonstrate what is intended from the political and linguistic meaning. ( Adapted from Wikipedia)
The concept of Arab nationalism or Arabism has emerged by Christian intellectuals and by other minorities in the Middle East, in order to get rid of the position of second class citizens “the people of Dhimma” as a result of the Islamic and ethnic religious considerations in the countries with the majority of Muslims and in order to achieve equality between nations and denominations of the Middle East under the banner of “common identity”.
Iraqi Christians fleeing the violence in the towns of Qaraqush and Bartala. both east of the city of Mosul in the northern province of Nineveh, pray at the Saint George church on July 1, 2014. (Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)
Christians were living in the Middle East before the start of Islam. The disciples of Jesus had spread the Gospel and carried the Good News to the nations with different civilizations, starting from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth including Saudi Arabia today. 400 years later, Islam started in the Arabian Peninsula and with the force of the sword they occupied the Middle East and North of Africa and forced the citizens to convert to Islam or pay taxes.
Christians preferred to ally with the Muslims rather than leaving their homeland. They fought alongside the Muslims against the Turkish occupation and the French and English mandate in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Sinai. The Copts of Egypt endured tribulations, murder and kidnapping by Muslims. Despite their suffering and discrimination against them, they refused the offers of the Western countries to protect them in their country Egypt.
The Islamic persecution towards Christians (the People of the Dhimma) has not stopped since the start of Islam. They were killed and initially forced to leave the Arabian Peninsula. The Christian Copts suffered a lot from the persecution of the Mamluks who also considered Christians as second class citizens. In the year 1011 God’s chosen governor forced every Coptic Christian to hang a wooden cross around their neck with a string of fiber. The cross’s length was not less than an arm and a half and weighed not less than 5 pounds sealed with lead with their name on it. This in addition to destroying Coptic churches and looting them. The Ottoman Empire carried out massacres in 1915 against the Armenians and some other Christian denominations. This led to the Assyrian and Greek massacres, East and South of turkey and North of Iraq. The victims’ number exceeded a million and a half Armenian Christians and about 250 thousand to 750 thousand Assyrians and Caledonians, in addition to half a million Greek during the First World War.
Today, we witness the start of an Islamic emirate on the Syrian and Iraqi lands, entitled “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” the acronym “ISIS” is used. This Islamic Emirate seeks to kill Christians and force them to leave their houses, destroy their possessions, confiscate and burn their belongings. Their latest, was threatening to kill the Christians of Mosul if they did not convert to Islam or pay taxes. They granted them 24 hours to leave Mosul without taking any of their belongings. All this takes place under the name of Islam and Islamic law without any public criticisms from moderate Muslims who denounce the interpretations of Qur’anic verses that command the murder of Christians and looting their possessions.
Arab Christians preferred to ally with Muslims under the umbrella of Arab Nationalism. Bigger Christian minorities in the Middle East that are in Egypt, Syria and Iraq have been exposed to a greater deal of persecution from murder, kidnapping, rape and forcing them to leave, in addition to bombing churches and burning them.
The Arab league held an important meeting a few days in Cairo to discuss the recent happenings in the Gaza strip after it has been bombed and shelled by Israel, which claimed the life of 170 people up to this hour. The Arab League discussed the humanitarian conditions in Gaza and ways to stop the fighting between Palestinian parties on Israel. However, the Arab league did not hold one conference for the Christian Arabs that are being exposed to murder and displacement from their nations for more than three years.
In other words, the Christians who preferred to ally with Muslims and to be under the umbrella of Arab Nationalism, are the ones who are being displaced from their homes and nations in the Middle East.
With the extending of the battle between the Hamas party and other Palestinian parties on the one hand, and the Israeli army on the other hand, we are hearing many Arab Christian voices amongst the Israeli Arabs who are united with the voices of Muslims to denounce the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. These voices were not free from some calls to legitimize the Islamic resistance to defend itself even when Palestinian innocents whether children, women and elderly are murdered and bombed.
The question remains: “Will the continuation of Christians in Israel and Palestine to defend their rights under the umbrella of Arab nationalism be rewarded with displacement, murder and the bombardment of churches if our country was governed one of these days by the Islamists?”