While Christians in Iraq have long faced the threat of growing Islamism and violence, now Christians in Egypt – and Syria – are facing new pressures as a year of dramatic change wraps up.
Boston and Cairo
This fall, a group of Iraqi-American Christians ramped up pressure on the Obama administration, warning that their ancient community in Iraq – already hobbled by eight years of war – could be pushed over the brink entirely after US forces withdraw by year's end.
Recently, Vice President Joe Biden responded.
"Basically, we got a letter back saying: Iraq is undergoing a great democratic process and we should take advantage of that," says Robert Dekeileta, a lawyer who volunteers with the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America. "It doesn't take into account that democracy for us is a little bit frightening because a lot of forces in society are opposed to non-Islamic entities like ours."
This year of dramatic political change in the Arab world – with dictators falling in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya; a violent uprising threatening Bashar al-Assad's grip on Syria; and popular agitation for democracy in Yemen and elsewhere – has opened up the real possibility that entrenched autocracy and despotism will be replaced by governments more responsive to their people.
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