The world’s attention continues to be focused on President Trump’s immigration ban, restricting immigrants from the predominantly-Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 120 days.
In the midst of all the arguments for and against the ban, Christian leaders in the Middle East have spoken out and voiced their opinions on the ban in interviews with Christianity Today.
Perhaps surprisingly, these Arab Christian leaders did not completely condemn the ban, although many of them expressed concern.
Adeeb Awad, chief editor of al-Nashra, the monthly magazine of the Presbyterian Synod of Syria and Lebanon, said he read the entire executive order and believes it contains reasonable restrictions, especially since the restrictions on immigration are temporary. Awad did, however, criticize President Obama’s policies toward the Middle East.
“It was the policies before Trump which hurt Middle Eastern Christians and other minorities more than anything else,” he said. “Especially in Iraq and Syria.”
Fadi Hallisso, a Syrian Christian who is married to a Syrian woman with American citizenship, sees the ban a bit differently.
“It is very humiliating to be put in the category of potential terrorist,” he said. “Just because I carry a certain passport.”
Hallisso’s uncle and the director for interfaith relations for World Vision Chawkat Moucarry, says the executive order is already changing the atmosphere in the Middle East.
“This executive order has created a new atmosphere very hostile to people in the region. Unwritten rules seem to be implemented as a result.”
Other leaders also worry that, since the ban reportedly makes an exception for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, the Middle East will lose the small Christian presence it has left.
“It is important for Christians to live in Muslim countries,” said Moucarry. “Because through them, Muslims will learn to accept the other. We must learn this principle in order to have a democratic society.
“Extremists say there is only one way to think or believe,” he continued. “So keeping Christians in the area is an indirect way to counter extremism and learn that diversity is good.”
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: January 31, 2017