Report finds persecution of Christians sharply increased around the world
Christian exodus from Middle East threatens local Church's survival
(New York) In many countries the situation of Christians has sharply deteriorated. This is the finding of the report Persecuted and Forgotten?, which was launched today at a session of the UK Houses of Parliament by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
The report examines the situation of Christians in 30 different countries, including Afghanistan, China, Laos, Pakistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In particular, it analyzes the situation in a number of majority Islamic countries and in those states whose political systems have a pronounced authoritarian character. The reporting period covers the past 30 months.
“The principal finding of the report is that in two-thirds of the countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, the problems have become arguably even worse. In fact the Church’s very survival in some parts – notably the Middle East – is now at stake,” said John Pontifex, ACN UK’s Head of Press and Information.
For Christians the so-called “Arab spring” has in many cases become what the report calls a “Christian winter.” Although the political upheavals have brought suffering to people of all faith communities, nonetheless it is above all the Christian confessions that have experienced the most open hostility and violence.
Christians have become victims of every kind of political, economic, social and religious conflict, most notably the conflicts between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, the report says. As a result, a great many Christians have been forced to flee. The study describes the Christian exodus from the Middle East as reaching “almost biblical proportions.”
As Pontifex explains, “from all accounts, the incidents of persecution are now apparently relentless and worsening; churches being burned; Christians are under pressure to convert; there is mob violence against Christian homes, as well as abduction and rape of Christian girls; there is anti-Christian propaganda in the media and from governments, in addition to discrimination in schools and in the workplace.. Persecuted and Forgotten? asks hard questions about the international community’s commitment to standing up for religious freedom.”
According to the report, the influence of fundamentalist Islamist groups has increased sharply in the past 30 months. They represent possibly the greatest threat to religious freedom in the world today. Their goal is the elimination, or at the very least the subjugation, of Christians. In communist countries efforts to exert control over the Christian population have also increased. However, in these countries Christians tend to be persecuted above all on account of their contacts with dissidents and with the West, and not because of their faith alone.
Please click here to download the report.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.