Christians Feel Outnumbered and Marginalized in Jerusalem’s Old City

Christians Feel Outnumbered and Marginalized in Jerusalem’s Old City

The number of Christians in Jerusalem has not risen in about 50 years, according to the Christian Examiner.

Jerusalem’s Christians number about 7,000 compared to the Muslim population, which make up about 75 percent of the 38,000 residents. Jews are also a dominant religion in Jerusalem.

"If a thousand Muslims leave Jerusalem, that's one thing," said Jamal Khader, head of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary near Bethlehem. "But if a thousand Christians leave, you threaten the identity of Jerusalem as a city of multiple faiths."

Many of the Christians in Jerusalem make a living by depending on tourists who come through the area, as it is believed to be where Jesus was buried. However, lately, with so much violence in Jerusalem and in surrounding areas, some say tourism numbers have fallen.

"When you're in the minority, you have to go with the flow," said Youseph Shbeita, an owner of a religious icon shop. "We just hope for calm, always for calm."

Christians in Jerusalem say they are feeling “squeezed out” by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Since much of the epicenter of this round of violence has been in and around the Old City, it has increased (Christian) vulnerability,” said Daniel Seidermann, an Israeli lawyer and activist.

Publication date: June 23, 2016