Magazine for Christian Arabs Receiving Positive Responses

Al-Maghtas neither denominational nor theological, focuses on socioeconomic issues
( [email protected] ) Jul 28, 2004 08:37 PM EDT

For the first time in decades Christian Arabs in Jordan and Palestine have their own magazine, according to a Lebanon-based newspaper. And with only two issues under its belt, Al-Maghtas (The Baptismal) has already received positive responses from Jordanian and Palestinian Christians.

Produced in the city of Amman, the 40-page glossy color Arabic magazine features articles, interviews, and even controversies. Unlike the majority of internationally available Christian magazines Al-Maghtas is neither denominational nor theological, but deals with socio-economic conditions focusing on Christian Arabs on both banks of the Jordan. According to its publishers, the new magazine will work on strengthening the desire of the Christian Arab community to stay in their homeland and be a bridge within the community and to the outside world.

According to the Daily Star, one Al-Maghtas article about emigration by Reverend John Noor, the secretary of the bishops of Jordan, says there are between 10-15 million Christian Arabs living in the Middle East. Most of the region's Christian Arabs live in Egypt (7-12 million) and Sudan, 600,000 live in Iraq, 165,000 in Jordan, 900,000 in Syria, 1.3 million in Lebanon, 50,000 in Palestine and 130,000 in Israel. Noor estimates that 4 million more live in the diaspora.

Refusing to be called a minority, Christian Arabs consider themselves part of the Arab world and partners with their Muslim compatriots in all the troubles that face the region today.

"We are proud of both our Arab nationality and our Christian belief ... We plan to honor those in our community who deserve such praise so that we can provide our younger generation with role models," stated the first edition's editorial, setting out the magazine's goals and vision.

While the magazine does cover a large variety of issues, it also hopes to be a source of information and entertainment for the community, printing photographs of Christian Arabs in Jordan and Palestine at various social events.

Philip Madanat, the magazine's editor, says Al-Maghtas still faces some legal obstacles with the Jordanian government's Department of Publications refusing to either issue or reject the request for a license. Jordanian law stipulates that if the government doesn't respond in 30 days to a request for a license then the request is considered de facto approved. The absence of a de jur license has hampered distribution and advertising efforts.

According to sources, the initial response of Jordanian and Palestinian Christians to the new magazine has been positive. Many have expressed that the magazine has given them a sense of identity and resolved the issue of who they are and the fact that they can be both proud Arab nationals without compromising their own Christian faith.

Al-Maghtas will be coming out with their third issue next month.

[Source: The Daily Star]