Christianity is on the edge of extinction in its birthplace, the Middle East.
Escaping sectarian violence, kidnappings, religious fatwas, economic hardship and severe persecution, the oldest Christian communities in the world are leaving the region.
Nowadays there are more Iraqi, Turkish and Palestinian Christians living in the Diaspora in Europe, the US or South America than in their native countries, while the current events in Egypt and Syria indicate a similar fate for its Christian population.
With the current speed of this Christian Exodus continuing, out of 12 million Christians in the middle East only 6 million will be left in the year 2020. It’s a real probability that within one generation Christianity, as a live religion and culture, will have vanished from the Middle East. I want to document this vanishing people and culture and record a historic process with severe political, economic and cultural consequences for the Middle East.
Christians have always been part of the intellectual and economic elite of Middle Eastern societies and their migration leads to a brain-drain, sided with the withdrew of financial assets and, equally important, cultural and intellectual force. This lack of resources will only accelerate the problems Middle East as a whole is facing and fuel the vicious circle of poverty, ill-education and extremist violence in the Region.
Working on the project since early 2011, I have repeatedly been to Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Gaza and Palestine. During this time I established a network of different NGOs, local churches and individuals that have helped me setting up contacts and logistics needed for this project.
To complete the project, thus to further depict the complexity of the phenomenon and to deepen its understanding, I will need to visit the Christian communities in the remaining countries of the Levant: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria.
Andy Spyra, born 1984 in Germany, is a freelance photographer currently based in Germany. He worked one year as a staff photographer for the local newspaper in his hometown before he became a freelance photographer. He’s working on assignments and personal longtermprojects in the Balkans and more recently in the middle East.
His Projects include a documentation of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir as well a four year long visual engagement with the aftermath of the genocide in Bosnia. Since 2011 he’s been working on a longtermproject about the christian exodus from the Middle East.