This week, Christians around the world mark the holiest week in their religious calendar, observing the Passion, crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem. This sober time of reflection and prayer comes in the midst of continued threats to Christians in the Middle East—most recently in the Palm Sunday bombings at two churches in Egypt claimed by ISIS.
Over the past decade, some of the oldest Christian communities have been disappearing from the lands where the faith was born and first took root. A combination of violence and discrimination has driven Christians to migrate abroad for physical security and better educational and economic opportunities. Christians have been targeted by terrorist groups like ISIS and devastated by the region’s civil wars. In addition, deeply rooted discrimination against Christians and other non-Muslims institutionalized in the legal codes and official practices of most Middle Eastern countries is another factor leading to the declining Christian presence.