Arab Christians Wary of War

Mar 25, 2003 10:24 AM EST

Since the onslaught of the War between the United States and Iraq, Arab Christians find themselves in a precarious position. Christian families in the Middle East who are fiercely loyal to the state and royal family say relations with their Muslim neighbors have continuously deteriorated.

"Mosque preachers are talking about a "crusade" being waged by American and British forces against Muslim Iraq," says Toufiq Mitri al-Salaitha, a Christian living in the Town of Madaba.

Mr Salaitha describes the use of the word crusade as "very worrying" for Christians, because it places them on the side of the Americans.

"We want peace," says another Madaba resident. "We know (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein is a bad dictator and we want to see him go, but not like this."

"They (the Muslims) look at us differently, they are suspicious of us," he said. Christians have to emphasize that they condemned the war.

It’s dangerous for a Christian to support military actions.

Mr al-Salaitha says America's reputation has been "made rotten" because of Washington's perceived rush to a war that most people see as unprovoked and unnecessary. He also said the relationship between Israel and the U.S. have been perceived by Arabs as going against Palestinians.

"The US used to be very well-received and respected by people here, but now I don't think more than two or three people in 100 appreciate Americans now," he says.

"Indeed, I don't advise American people to visit some parts of Jordan, because they will not be well-received."

"Solve the problem of Palestine, by making a Palestinian state, and our lives will be much easier - because that is the reason for much tension," said the Jordan citizen.

"The Americans should think what they say and what they do; they must remember that there are Christians here, and what they do affects us," he says.

By Pauline J.