Rifugio. Christians of the Middle East
2011- 2014 with journalist Andrea Milluzzi
Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, West Bank
published by Schilt Publishing, 2015
During New Year’s evening mass 2011, an explosion destroyed the Saints Church in Alexandria. Twenty-one people died. The story appeared in Western newspapers and television, but after a few days the media’s attention faded. We felt the need to know more. We wanted to know these millennial communities and give witness to their experience after the media exit. So we left, to discover stories, families and villages in their everyday life. We were looking for the heirs of the evangelists and the first pilgrims. In some cases we have retraced and followed their steps, crossing the borderlands that divided Paganism from Christianity. Maku in Iran, Deir Abu Hennis in Egypt, and the Turkish Antakya are tiny points on the atlas, but they are the vestiges of a journey that has reached us after two millennia. We never left the house, we have only explored other rooms.
An estimated 12 million Christians live in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. They are the narrators of this work. They have entrusted us tragic, romantic, and comic stories. Refuge gave us examples of co-existence and exclusions, of relationships based on people and of ghettoization. We reported the version of the Christians, without concealing any hostile attitude towards Islam and Muslims. We have repeatedly faced sectarian viewpoints but we did not surrender to those who sought to foment a clash of civilizations.