15 - 25 million
|Regions with significant populations|
Most Christian Arabs live in the Middle East, where Islam is the biggest religion. The largest number of Arab Christians are in Egypt (around 8 millions). In Arab populations of these places (the Americas, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and America), a big number of these Arabs are Christians. In Brazil, there are more than 12 million Arabs, and most of these people are Christian.
Arab Christians faced significant persecution with the onset of the Islamic invasion after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Conversion was often required for those who could not pay a substantial tax known as the 'jizya'. Furthermore, during various periods in the history of the Islamic world, Arab Christians were subject to at times brutal and humiliating persecution. Despite this, many Christians chose not to change their religion to Islam. Instead, they kept Christianity as their belief. As Muslims call them the "People of the Book" (with Jews). Today, Christians in the area face significant persecution that is only getting worse. In most countries they are required to obey Islamic "Shari'ah" law. In some countries, notably Egypt, political approval is required for the construction or renovation of a church - such restrictions are not present in the construction of Mosques. Countries in the Arabian Gulf, most notably Saudi Arabia, do not allow for the construction of churches or the public practice of Christianity - although that is slowly changing in progressive areas like the UAE. Coptic Christians in Egypt continue to face significant discrimination in the workplace and have a hard time reaching to the upper echelons in universities, corporations, and government offices.
Arab Christians have been around before Arab Muslims. This is because there were many Arab tribes that became Christians since the first century. They were the Nabateans (whose ancestors were Aramean) and the Ghassanids (who were of Qahtani origin and spoke Yemeni-Arabic and Greek). They protected the south-eastern parts of the Byzantine Empire in north Arabia.
Arab Christians made important contributions to the Arab world, and they still do. Some of the best poem writers at certain times were Arab Christians, and many Arab Christians were doctors, writers, government staff, and people who knew a lot about literature.
- The Canadian Arab Federation & Arab Community Centre of Toronto (1999). "A Profile of Arabs in Canada". Virtual Library. Toronto Centre of Excellence. http://ceris.metropolis.net/Virtual%20Library/community/Arab1/arab1.html.
- "2001 Census: Ancestry - Detailed paper" (PDF). Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/AD2222ECE5AD4396CA25712500161734/$File/29330_2001.pdf.
- "Appendices to Isma". Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's Publications Unit. http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/isma/report/appendices.html.
- "Republic of Iraq". Operation World. http://www.gmi.org/ow/country/iraq/owtext.html#rel.