Christians must hope for more than democracy in the Middle East, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali told the audience at “Christianity at a Crossroads in the Middle East”, an event organised by Middle East Christian broadcaster SAT-7 in London last week.
Warning that “democracy can mean the tyranny of the majority,” the former Bishop of Rochester and President of OXTRAD said Christians should pray and work for a democracy that recognises “Common citizenship, one rule of law for all, the equality of all before the law.” In Egypt, where a new constitution is currently being drawn up, he said the best solution will be to incorporate in it a bill of rights.
At the same time, Christian minorities in countries like Egypt – where a new constitution is currently being drawn up – must actively engage with wider society: “We need to pray that the Church will remain in the public square,” Bishop Nazir-Ali said. “Christians need to be there and not retreat. We bring good news, the good news of the Gospel that changes people, changes societies and changes the world.
“Whatever difficulties they face, Christians must “not only address the political economic and social situations, they need to show love.”
“I’m so grateful to SAT-7 for showing Christian love in the region,” he told the event’s audience at All Souls Langham Place.
While Christians are being forced to flee countries like Syria and Iraq, Bishop Nazir-Ali and a Turkish religious and human rights speaker gave the audience examples of how many people are coming to faith in Christ in countries like Iran and Algeria. But the Turkish speaker stressed how research confirms the essential need for the Church to build deep relationships with these new believers, and the complementary role SAT-7 plays.
“Without the community of Christ they cannot survive,” he said, “SAT-7 is one of the few lifelines for most of the Christians in the region.” Moreover, he added, “The Church in the Middle East and North Africa needs to know that the British Church and the global body of Christ will not abandon them.”