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Christianity in the Arab World was flourishing in relative terms prior to the First World War and consequent break-up of the Ottoman Empire. Since the 1920s, and particularly since the Second World War, Arab Christianity has seen an ongoing demographic decline and, in several parts of the Arab world, a disappearance from which it is unlikely to recover. This paper tries to find an answer to the question of how Christians in the Arab World deal with the prospect of ongoing decline and what strategies they are using to survive in lands where they have lived since the beginning of Christianity.
First, a very brief overview will be presented that sheds light on the decline of Christians since the arrival of Islam, the proportional increase of Christians in the 19th century and early years of the 20th century and the renewed decline following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
In the second section, the theoretical framework of Alexander R. Arifianto that links declining Christianity to political alliances and tensions along religious lines in the region will be explained. This is followed by a section with a description of religion and politics in Egypt in relation to an Egyptian Christian survival strategy that was strongly linked to maintaining good relations with Egyptian authorities before the Revolution of January 25, 2011 and the Islamist rise to power. It continues to describe how, following this, the majority of Christians sided with the opposition to Islamist rule (2012-2013), and after the overthrow of Egypt’s first Islamist president Christians have allied themselves with the rulers of the country led by former field marshal Abdelfattah al-Sisi. The experiences in Egypt and other countries in the region confirm Arifianto’s theoretical framework
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