Danish journalist Wivel is to be commended for shedding light on an important but ignored topic, the plight of present-day, Arabic-speaking Christians. His firsthand discussions with an assortment of Christians offer helpful insights. Among these are

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Danish journalist Wivel is to be commended for shedding light on an important but ignored topic, the plight of present-day, Arabic-speaking Christians. His firsthand discussions with an assortment of Christians offer helpful insights. Among these are the cultural differences between Copts, Greek Orthodox Palestinians, and Maronites, who are often conflated as "Mideast Christians." His discussions with an Egyptian teacher and Iraqi politician are especially useful: Public schools in their countries have removed Christianity from history texts so that indigenous Christians are now seen as foreigners.

Unfortunately, the book fails to deliver. Despite its ambitious subtitle, it confines itself to too small a vista. Of the twenty-two Arab states, the book covers only Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and the West Bank-Gaza. It does not mention the chronic persecution of Christians in Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan, countries where, according to a 2016 study,[1] Christians fare far worse than the places the author visited. In addition, the work is outdated; originally published in Danish in 2013, the genocide against Christians under ISIS receives no mention.

Finally, Wivel's ubiquitous use of first person makes the book read like a travel memoir. While detailed and dramatic descriptions of atmospheric meetings in restaurants are all well and good in a magazine, they are inappropriate for a book of this nature.

Those seeking useful and current information about Christians in Arab lands need, therefore, look elsewhere.


[1] "2016 World Watch List," Open Doors, Santa Ana.