Friday, July 30, 2004

NEWS -- Christian Magazine in Palestine-Jordan Launches 7-30-04

PROFILE: Al Maghtas Magazine
New Magazine For Christian Arabs in Jordan and Palestine
By Daoud Kuttab

(Arab American Media Services -- News Wire)

For the first time in decades Christian Arabs in Jordan and Palestine have their own magazine. The first edition of the 40 page glossy color magazine Al Maghtas (the baptismal) was produced in Amman this week featuring interviews, articles, and even some controversy.

According to Reverand John Noor, the secretary of the bishops of Jordan, there are between 10-15 million Christian Arabs living in the Middle East. Most of the region’s Christian Arabs in Egypt (7-12 million) and Sudan, 600,000 live in Iraq, 165,000 in Jordan, 900,000 in Syria, 1.3 million in Lebanon, 50,000 in Palestine and 130,000 in Israel. Noor whose two page article deals with emigration estimates that four million more live in the diaspora.

Unlike most available Christian magazines, Al Maghtas is neither denominational nor theological. It deals with socio economic conditions concentrating on Christian Arabs on both banks of the Jordan. Christian Arabs refuse to be called a minority, they consider themselves part of the Arab world and partners with their Muslim brethren in the good and bad that face the Arab nation. Philip Madanat the editor of the magazine says that the strength of Al Maghtas is in its exclusivity for the Christian community and its avoidance of theology.

Among the feature stories in the magazine was an interview with one of the leading Jordanian businessmen, and philanthrop Elia Nuqol the CEO of the Fine tissue company. In another article Widad Kawar the internationally known collector of Palestinian and Jordanian dresses and folklore is featured with a long profile.

Controversy is not absent in the newest magazine of Christian Arabs. An investigation into the internal struggles between three Christian Churches over the right to the keys to the Nativity Church is presented from all points of view.

(Daoud Kuttab is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem, Palestine, and director of the Institute of Modern Media, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem.)