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US-Mideast Christians form groundbreaking organization
by Via Dolorosa
Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2000 01:48 pm CST

Leaders of Mideast Christian organizations in the United States formed a national conference to be known as MECHRIC (Middle East Christian Conference) on June 28. The new conference will raise the profile of the concerns of the various Christian communities in the Middle East.

The announcement was made at a meeting convened at the US Capitol by the Washington-based Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom and US Senator Sam Brownback, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.

Meeting participants included the American Coptic Association, US Copts Association, Arabic Baptist Church, Assyrian Academic Society, International Coptic Federation, Christian League of Pakistan, American Maronite Union, Assyrian Universal Alliance, Beth Nahrain National Organization, South Sudanese Voice for Freedom, World Lebanese Organization, Iranian Christian International and Chaldean National Federation.

Also attending was a representative of Maronite Patriarch Sfeir.

Participating organizations represent over two million Americans of Mideast Christian descent from such countries as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Sudan. The meeting focused on the special historical role of Christian communities in the Middle East and the importance of the spiritual, intellectual and cultural contributions of Christians in the Middle East both to Christianity itself and democracy in general. Among the topics discussed were the recent attacks on Copts in Egypt, ongoing genocide and slavery in Sudan, continued presence of Syrian occupation troops in Lebanon and the plight of Assyro-Chaldeans in northern Iraq. The meeting also addressed some of the common issues facing Christians in the region such as religious intolerance, growing exodus, pervasive economic and political discrimination, and cultural marginalization,

Participants noted the lack of US response and unbalanced policy approaches to the problems of Mideast Christians.

Following its formation, MECHRIC appointed a preparatory committee for its next meeting to take place in Washington in September with Professor Walid Phares as its coordinator. In his remarks, Dr. Phares said, “Today, we made history. From now on, there will be a voice representing the voiceless communities of the Middle East in America. . . And more importantly, the American people and international public opinion will be able to see another dimension of the region.”

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