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Palestinian Territories

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Christianity is on the edge of extinction in its birthplace, the Middle East.
Escaping sectarian violence, kidnappings, religious fatwas, economic hardship and severe persecution, the oldest Christian communities in the world are leaving the region.
Nowadays there are more Iraqi, Turkish and Palestinian Christians living in the Diaspora in Europe, the US or South America than in their native countries, while the current events in Egypt and Syria indicate a similar fate for its Christian population.

With the current speed of this Christian Exodus continuing, out of 12 million Christians in the middle East only 6 million will be left in the year 2020. It’s a real probability that within one generation Christianity, as a live religion and culture, will have vanished from the Middle East. I want to document this vanishing people and culture and record a historic process with severe political, economic and cultural consequences for the Middle East.

Christians have always been part of the intellectual and economic elite of Middle Eastern societies and their migration leads to a brain-drain, sided with the withdrew of financial assets and, equally important, cultural and intellectual force. This lack of resources will only accelerate the problems Middle East as a whole is facing and fuel the vicious circle of poverty, ill-education and extremist violence in the Region.

Working on the project since early 2011, I have repeatedly been to Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Gaza and Palestine. During this time I established a network of different NGOs, local churches and individuals that have helped me setting up contacts and logistics needed for this project.
To complete the project, thus to further depict the complexity of the phenomenon and to deepen its understanding, I will need to visit the Christian communities in the remaining countries of the Levant: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria.

 

Bio

Andy Spyra, born 1984 in Germany, is a freelance photographer currently based in Germany. He worked one year as a staff photographer for the local newspaper in his hometown before he became a freelance photographer. He’s working on assignments and personal longtermprojects in the Balkans and more recently in the middle East.

His Projects include a documentation of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir as well a four year long visual engagement with the aftermath of the genocide in Bosnia. Since 2011 he’s been working on a longtermproject about the christian exodus from the Middle East.

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Original author: 
Rob Alderson

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burn magazine

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Miguel Ángel Sánchez

Ulu Pamir

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Miguel Ángel Sánchez traveled in 2012 with his studio to Ulu Pamir, Turkey, a far place in the middle of Turkish Kurdistan, hidden between mountains with very hard winters and connected by a tortuous path to Van Lake. 30 years ago, this land was the witness of the arrival of a group of unusual people with unusual features.

These people, originally from Kyrgyzstan, came walking from far away, from Pamir, with the promise of a better and safer life hosted by the Turkish government, avoiding the war with USSR.

30 years later, people from this place fight against the government´s abandonment and harassment of the PKK guerrilla warfare.

Miguel Ángel portrayed the inhabitants from this small village and their will to preserve their roots and traditions despite being far away from their original land.

 

Bio

Miguel Ángel Sánchez (Madrid 1977), Spanish photographer based in Cairo since 2009.

For years he combined his development as an artist with his work in a commercial photography studio, until, in 2009, he decided to completely turn over to his creative side and opened his own photography studio in Cairo (Egypt).

His studio in Cairo is the base where he works and prepares projects developed in Egypt for the last four years, but he is also a study itinerant photographer who takes his workspace to any corner of the world: Asia, Middle East or black Africa. The Gaddafi war in Libya, the Ulu Pamir besieged by the PKK in Turkish Kurdistan, the Gaza Strip after Israel bombing and Lebanon after Hariri are some of the ports reached by Studio Al Asbani.

Miguel Ángel Sánchez also combines his work as a studio photographer with photojournalist and cameraman in conflict zones where he covered the war in Libya, the Egyptian revolution and the Gaza Operation Pillar of defense, among others.

His work has been published by national media such as El País, and international as The New York Times, Le Monde, New Yorker, Photo Raw, La Lettre de la Photographie, etc.

 

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Miguel Ángel Sánchez

 

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As usual in this kind of international photo competition, there's a couple of winning shots about Palestine, some portraits of magnificently coiffed people, plenty of violent deaths, prisoners living in dire conditions and almost half of these talented photographers are Italian. I'm very impressed by the Afrometals series, btw continue

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In a scorching hot community gym in the northern Israeli city of Acre, groups of young Jewish and Arab boys gathered to fight as equals. Boxing, it seems, serves as an unlikely bridge to peace among adversaries.

Associated Press photographer Oded Balilty is no stranger to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—in fact, his photographic legacy is intertwined in the struggle. After photographing the often violent clashes in Gaza and the West Bank for most of his life, Balilty has begun turning to stories that move beyond the violence—stories that offer glimpses of humanity, cooperation and shared experience.

Balilty’s latest series goes behind-the-scenes of last week’s National Youth Boxing Championship, supported by an organization boasting approximately 2000 active members. Although boxing isn’t a major sport in Israel, it’s favored by many of the roughly 2 million Israeli Arabs in the country, who often face discrimination and other economic hardships.

Within the framework of the sport, Jewish and Arab fighters square off, putting aside the tensions one would expect within a physically brutal sport. The young fighters, clad in helmets and gloves, view each other as equals and are not burdened by the engrained history of conflict outside the ring.

Balilty was drawn to the young age of the children. Many are between 9 and 13, ages where children remain unburdened by the conflicts of their parents. “They are only kids—all they care is to have fun with their friends everyday,” Balilty told TIME, “just like in any other place. It really gives me hope.”

Oded Balilty is a photographer for the Associated Press based in Tel Aviv. LightBox featured his work earlier this year in The Art of Storytelling and The Stone Throwers of Palestine.

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