Christianity’s 2,000-year history in Mideast showcased in Paris exhibition

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Lorraine Caballero
The Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris has organized a landmark exhibition which features the 2,000-year history of Christianity in the Middle East amid the threat and hardships that Christian communities in the region have been facing.
(REUTERS / Suhaib Salem)Iraqis attend the first Palm Sunday procession in the burnt out main church of the Christian city of Qaraqosh since Iraqi forces retook it from Islamic States militants, Iraq April 9, 2017.

On Sept. 25, French President Emmanuel Macron and Lebanese leader Michel Aoun inaugurated the exhibition titled “Oriental Christians: 2,000 Years of History” in central Paris. The display includes frescoes, manuscripts, mosaics, liturgical objects and other items that document the history of the Christian faith in the Middle East, France 24 reported.

Some of the items included in IMA’s exhibition have never been displayed in public in Europe before. Spectators will be treated to a walk-through of the establishment of the first Christian churches, the Muslim conquest, the Catholic and Protestant Missions, Christians’ role in the Arab renaissance, and other aspects that highlight the contribution of Christianity to history.

“IMA’s mission is to shed light on the various aspects of cultures and beliefs present in the Arab world, and I realised there had never been an exhibition of this magnitude devoted to Christians in the Middle East before,” IMA president and former French culture minister Jack Lang told France 24.

At the end of the walk-through display, viewers will see current photos of practicing Christians in the Middle East as a message that says these people will maintain their presence in the region despite the persecution that they endure. IMA’s exhibition will run until Jan. 14, 2018.

Meanwhile, a new study conducted by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association has found that the future of Christianity in the Middle East appears bleak. The wars, persecution, political turmoil in the last several years have caused believers to flee to neighboring countries or to other continents, The Church Militant relayed.

The Christian communities affected the most are those in Iraq and Syria, and the number of Iraqi believers has plunged from more than a million in the 1990s to merely 250,000 this year. The survival of Christianity in the Middle East reportedly depends on Chaldeans and other Christians’ willingness and ability to make their way back to their homelands.