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The largest Christian group in the Middle East is the previously Coptic speaking but today mostly Arabic-speaking Egyptian Copts, who number 15–21 million people, Copts reside mainly in Egypt, but also in Sudan and Libya, with tiny communities in Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia.The Eastern Aramaic speaking indigenous Assyrians of Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran and northeastern Syria, who number 2–3 million, have suffered both ethnic and religious persecution for many centuries, such as the Assyrian Genocide conducted by the Ottoman Turks and their allies, leading to many fleeing and congregating in areas in the north of Iraq and northeast of Syria.
From Antioch, where Christians were first so called, came Ignatius, Diodore of Tarsus, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Nestorius, Theodoret, John of Antioch, Severus of Antioch and Peter the Fuller, many of whom are associated with the School of Antioch.Today the biggest Middle Eastern Greek community resides in Cyprus and numbers around 793,000 (2008).Cypriot Greeks constitute the only Christian majority state in the Middle East, although Lebanon was founded with a Christian majority in the first half of the 20th century.They came into existence as a result of a schism within the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch over election of a Patriarch in 1724.The Armenians number around 1 million in the Middle East, with their largest community in Iran with 200,000 members.There are currently several million Christian foreign workers in the Gulf area, mostly from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
In the Persian Gulf states, Bahrain has 1,000 Christian citizens Although the vast majority of Middle Eastern populations descend from Pre-Arab and Non-Arab peoples extant long before the 7th century AD Arab Islamic conquest, a 2015 study estimates there are also 483,500 Christian believers from a previously Muslim background in the Middle East, most of them being adherents of various Protestant churches.
Christians now make up 10%-15% of the Middle Eastern population, down from 20% in the early 20th century.
Cyprus is the only Christian Majority country in the Middle East, with the Christian percentage ranging between 76% and 78% of mainly Eastern Orthodox Christianity (i.e. Proportionally, Lebanon has the 2nd highest rate of Christians in the Middle East, with a percentage ranging between 39% and 40.5% of mainly Maronite Christians, followed by Egypt where Christians (especially Coptic Christians) and others account for about 10% and 23% according to different sources.
Converts to Christianity from other religions such as Islam, Yezidism, Mandeanism, Yarsan, Zoroastrianism, Bahaism, Druze, and Judaism exist in relatively small numbers amongst the Kurdish, Turks, Turcoman, Iranian, Azeri, Circassian, Israelis, Kawliya, Yezidis, Mandeans and Shabaks.
Middle Eastern Christians are relatively wealthy, well educated, and politically moderate, Christianity spread rapidly from Jerusalem along major trade routes to major settlements, finding its strongest growth among Hellenized Jews in places like Antioch and Alexandria.
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