There is a sliding scale among the various Christian groups in the Islamic world: a scale of fear (and absence of fear) that depends on such things as both absolute numbers, and numbers relative to Muslims who live in the same country, or who live in the same neighborhood, and on the ability of outside non-Muslim powers to bring pressure to bear.
This last was more important once. Its effects can be seen in the efforts to force the Ottoman government to treat non-Muslims better, even to treat them nearly as equal to Muslims — and this was hard to do, for at the local level Muslims were unwilling to obey. And France, for a long while, was the protector of Maronites in Lebanon. In 1871, the French National Assembly simply passed the loi Crevier that conferred on Jews in Algeria the legal status of Frenchmen, and thus no longer to be treated, according to the Shari’a, as dhimmis. While Lord Cromer and his administration were in Egypt — see “Memoirs of an Egyptian Official” by Lord Edward Cecil — the status of non-Muslims improved dramatically. That improvement continued under the regime of Farouk until Nasser and his fellow colonels (Naguib, et al.) arrived on the scene to see Egyptian, Arab, Muslim (they all blended, they all overlapped) justice done.
On that sliding scale, the Maronites were the most self-confident, and some, not all, Greek Orthodox in Lebanon as well. Charles Malik, though born Greek Orthodox, seems to be the quintessential protector of Maronite interests. Christians in Syria, though protected — out of self-interest — by the Alawite dictatorship, are keenly aware that the absence of real persecution depends on the continuation of Alawite rule. Assyrians and Chaldeans kept their heads down, and never uttered a word against the rule of Saddam Hussein who, they knew, was their protector. Or rather, they were the unintended beneficiaries of Sadddam Hussein’s attempt to curtail mosque-based or Islam-based opposition to his rule.
And the Copts can always cling to one or two members who have risen high — there was Boutros Boutros Ghali, whose grandfather of the same name had served in an important post. They have tried to avoid Muslim fury ever since their British protectors left, and they have been left, alone, with Islam, which becomes more like full-bodied Islam every day.
The least “Christian” of Christians in the Middle East are the “islamochristians” who include so many of those “Palestinian” Arabs — not so much the Gazan Arabs as the “West Bank” Arabs — who, from Naim Ateek and Hanan Ashrawi, to Michel Sabbah and gun-running icon-stealing Archbishop Cappucci, have identified wholeheartedly with the Lesser Jihad against Israel. And they continue to do so despite the persecution of Arab Christians in both Gaza and in such centers as Bethlehem.
One wonders if, as with the Copts, the Assyrians and Chaldeans who may be permitted to settle here will, after a while, begin to express their resentment of those they call “the turbans” — meaning the Shi’a, whom they have come to regard as the only threat, choosing to overlook what Sunni Muslims have shown themselves to be, choosing to pretend that if only Saddam Hussein were still in power, all manner of things should be well. One wonders also if they will go even farther, beginning to analyze Islam and the most uncertain, unsettled, and unpleasant position of Christians in Muslim-dominated lands. As for the “Palestinian” Arab islamochristians, they are the least likely to emerge, after years abroad, from the deep mental and emotional freeze of dhimmitude.
Those Christians who, because they speak and use Arabic, and may even possess Arab names, have been convinced that they too are Arabs, often take pride in that ethnic identity, that Arabness, that ‘Uruba. They allow that identity to make them loyal, despite being “Christians,” to Islam, and to accept the Muslim worldview, for Islam and Arabness are mutually reinforcing.
Compare them to Pakistani Christians, or Indonesian Christians. Once they have sloughed off Islam, and no longer have any ethnic identity that links them still to Islam, they show themselves to be far more critical of it, far less likely to adopt or persist in accepting the Muslim worldview, than do many Arab Christians whose “Arabness” brings Islam along with it — just as islamization so often brought arabization, over 1350 years, to so many non-Arab and non-Muslim peoples of the Middle East and North Africa.