Why does North Africa west of Egypt not have a large indigenous Christian community?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Why does North Africa west of Egypt not have a large indigenous Christian community? I mean, back in 1900, places such as Syria, Egypt, and Palestine had a relatively large number of Christians:



However, to my knowledge, there were extremely few Christians in North Africa west of Egypt during this time who were not descended from recent European colonialists (such as the pieds-noirs in Algeria). What explains this discrepancy? Why did North Africa no longer have a large indigenous Christian community by 1900 while Syria, Egypt, and Palestine still had a large one back then? Was it because the Almohads' religious fanaticism caused most Christians in North Africa to convert to Islam? Or was there some other reason(s) for this?

Any thoughts on this?

@johnincornwall @Maki @Mastersonmcvoidson @Tulius @martin76 @Ighayere
 
Sep 2019
393
Slovenia
It seems that church in north Africa did not have strong monastic tradition contrary to Egypt. So christians became slowly muslims because with that they avoided being second class citizens or escaped. The remaining christians were forced to convert by Almohads yes.

Also during Vandal reign in north Africa the bulk of people became Arians and many orthodox christians were exiled. When Greeks defeated Vandals in 534 church was restored but majority was still arian or their conversion was more formal and not so deep. So they became more easly muslims. It should be said also that Berbers many of them Arians were mostly in conflict with Greeks and joined them only very late because of muslim invasion.


 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
It seems that church in north Africa did not have strong monastic tradition contrary to Egypt. So christians became slowly muslims because with that they avoided being second class citizens or escaped. The remaining christians were forced to convert by Almohads yes.

Also during Vandal reign in north Africa the bulk of people became Arians and many orthodox christians were exiled. When Greeks defeated Vandals in 534 church was restored but majority was still arian or their conversion was more formal and not so deep. So they became more easly muslims.


Very interesting; thanks!

BTW, do you know if there were any serious attempts to convert North African Muslims back to Christianity during colonialism?
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,386
Italy, Lago Maggiore
During colonialism Christians settled there ... I remember we have already had occasion to discuss the "Italian threat" in Tunisia [the French colonial power felt the increasing Italian presence in the country as a threat].

But European colonialism in XIX century was positivist / determinist / rationalist [as a colonial ideology can be rational ...]. Sure Italian colonial armies didn't carry the cross ... As for I know the Italian Kingdom [which had seen as an evil issue of Freemasonry by the Papacy, btw ...] didn't make great efforts to support an eventual new evangelization in the African colonies ...
 
Sep 2019
393
Slovenia
Well yes the French tried to convert muslims to christianity in Algeria for example. The Roman catholic church was reintroduced in Algeria after the French conquest, when the diocese of Algiers was established in 1838. As of the last census in Algeria, taken on 1 June 1960, there were 1,050,000 non-Muslim civilians (mostly Catholic) in Algeria (10 percent of the total population including 130,000 Jews ). Now muslims were second class citizens. The Crémieux Decree of 1870 denied Muslim Algerians full citizenship status while granting local Christian and Algerian Jewish inhabitants full citizenship. The French claimed their are following with this the policy of modernization.

After Algeria became independent in 1962, about 800,000 people of French nationality were evacuated to France. The majority of those who evacuated were Christian or Jewish.

 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,386
Italy, Lago Maggiore
This is interesting as well, I wasn't aware of that French attempt to regain to Christianity that land. In the Italian colonies [and surrounding lands, like Tunisia] it was substantially about migration of Italians who settled there. Curiously enough, today in Tunisia there are more Jews than Christians [anyway as a little minority].
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Well yes the French tried to convert muslims to christianity in Algeria for example. The Roman catholic church was reintroduced in Algeria after the French conquest, when the diocese of Algiers was established in 1838. As of the last census in Algeria, taken on 1 June 1960, there were 1,050,000 non-Muslim civilians (mostly Catholic) in Algeria (10 percent of the total population including 130,000 Jews ). Now muslims were second class citizens. The Crémieux Decree of 1870 denied Muslim Algerians full citizenship status while granting local Christian and Algerian Jewish inhabitants full citizenship. The French claimed their are following with this the policy of modernization.

After Algeria became independent in 1962, about 800,000 people of French nationality were evacuated to France. The majority of those who evacuated were Christian or Jewish.

Just how many Christians were there in Algeria in 1829, though? The Christians who lived in Algeria up to 1962 were overwhelmingly descendants of post-1830 European and Maltese immigrants to Algeria.
 
Sep 2019
393
Slovenia
@AlpinLuke yes in Italy after its unification catholics were not allowed to vote for quite some time. Pope ordered this like in a protest because liberals and freemasons took over Papal state protected before by French forces of Napoleon III.
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,867
Cornwall
First time I've heard the interpretation that the Vandals were defeated by the 'Greeks'. We only really know that the Vandals persecuted Roman Catholic 'Romans'. Not sure they imposed Arianism on the indigenous berbers/mauri. Talking about 'exiles' is the real upper/ruling class.

In answer to the OP - in countries west of Egypt Christianity was systematically eliminated bit by bit, by becoming less and less 'safe'. Over centuries really. There's an article on these reductions in Morocco and their causes somewhere (in the last 2 or 3 centuries, it seems to have recovered somewhat after the Almohads' efforts
 
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Sep 2019
393
Slovenia
Persecution of catholics was very harsh under Vandal king Huneric. Because Greek emperor Zeno was not ready to grant freedoms to Arians in the eastern Roman empire Huneric expelled around 5000 pious orthodox christians to Maures Mauntains. Others were under severe pressure their churches were confiscated and many were converted to Arianism also to enjoy bussiness and life. However Berbers mostly became arians already during the reign of Huneric's father king Geiseric. They were also his loyal allies. Rich Romans were expelled or killed by Vandals, their slaves were left free and it seems that Berbers were doing better under Vandals. When Greeks defeated Vandals under Justinian and Belisarius Berbers were protesting because Roman laws and custums were put again in place.