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Archbishop Hanna warns of declining number of Christians in Middle East

Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna [centre], seen during a protest in the West bank city of Hebron on 22 January 2015 [Muhesen Amren / ApaImages]
Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna [centre] on 22 January 2015 [Muhesen Amren/ApaImages]

The Head of the Sebastia Diocese of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Atallah Hanna, yesterday warned that the number of Christians emigrating from the Middle East has reached unprecedented levels, calling to preserve this important component in the region.

"The tragedies which have befallen Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and many other Arab countries have caused the overwhelming majority of Christians to emigrate," Hanna said in a statement, adding: "As for Palestine, we notice that the Christian presence in our country is declining in an unprecedented and dramatic manner due to the [Israeli] occupation's policies in addition to social, cultural and other causes."

Hanna warned that the disappearance of the Christian element from Palestine in particular, and from the Orient in general, is not a loss for Christians alone, but rather a loss for all these countries and peoples, because then the Orient loses its diversity that has characterised it for centuries.

"We, in Palestine, know well who created the brutal Zionism which led to all these catastrophes and setbacks to which our people were subjected," he added.

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