(CHRISTIANPOST) — As Christmas approaches, it is worth remembering the historical roots of Christians in the Middle East, and recognizing just how much the plight of Middle East Christians has deteriorated.
Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, inspiring a faith that would spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the Levant, including territories in modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. Christianity flourished as one of the major religions in the Middle East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century.
Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would “likely drop to” half of their numbers “by the year 2020″ because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of “exclusion and persecution” leading to emigration.