This statistical data was presented today at YSU by Oxford University researcher, sociologist and activist Dr. Hrach Chilingiryan. He had arrived in Armenia to participate in “Aurora” Award Ceremony and was received at YSU in the framework of these events. YSU Scientific Secretary Menua Soghomonyan made welcoming speech, then Head of the Chair of Theory and History of Sociology of YSU Faculty of Sociology Harutyun Vermishyan presented his biography and career. Then Dr. Chilingiryan delivered his lecture.
In recent years he has drawn the attention of the scientific and political decision-making circles on the status of the Middle East Christian communities, problems of the minorities. His lecture was devoted to the current problems of the Christian community in the Middle East, wars, religious extremism, inter-community conflicts, genocide, social and economic decline and migration.
Mr. Chilingiryan began his lecture with a historical background, starting with the spread of the Christianity in the Middle East, listed the countries where the largest Christian communities are.
“The history of Christianity in this region is much older than other religions’ history. The birthplace of Christianity is the Middle East; it is also proved by the Bible with its geographical descriptions. Even in the West they should be constantly reminded that the beginning was in the East. Islam was formed in the 7th century on the territory of modern Saudi Arabia,” - he said.
After presenting the different directions of Christianity Mr. Chilingiryan focused on current conflicts and extremism. He noted that the roots go to much earlier times.
“This all started 100 years ago in the years of the First World War, when there was the redrawing of the borders, displacement of people, genocide of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. France and Britain divided the Middle East, drawing lines on maps. The Middle East has a record of coups. Christian communities have seen all these conflicts, coups,” - said Mr. Chilingiryan, listing coups in Turkey and Egypt, the unresolved Israeli-Palestine conflict, Arab-Israeli wars and so on.
The extremist group “Islamic state” has become a serious problem in the last 5-6 years in the Middle East. Its main target was the Christians. And if the Christian churches have not even been destroyed, then they have become shelters and places of Islamic religious propaganda.
“Let us remember that there were prerequisites for the formation of the Islamic State. There were many extremists especially in Egypt, Jordan, who preached hatred for Christians,” – he said, adding that it is naive to think that all this will end tomorrow, decades are required to reach political consensus, to reconstruct ruined cities.
Concluding his speech, Mr. Chilingiryan said that current situation in the Middle East causes migration. As a result, the Armenian communities in the Middle East fell by 65%.
Short videos were shown during the lecture, which told us about the Islamic extremist attitude towards Christians and Christian buildings.