Christianity ‘close to extinction’ in Middle East

Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report.
 
The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.

And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.

It warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.

The report, by the think tank Civitas, says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree.

“A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

It cites estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”

“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood,” says the author, Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.

He adds: “The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”

The report, entitled Christianophobia, highlights a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them.

State hostility towards Christianity is particularly rife in China, where more Christians are imprisoned than in any other country in the world, according to the report.

It quotes Ma Hucheng, an advisor to the Chinese government, who claimed in an article last year that the US has backed the growth of the Protestant Church in China as a vehicle for political dissidence.

“Western powers, with America at their head, deliberately export Christianity to China and carry out all kinds of illegal evangelistic activities,” he wrote in the China Social Sciences Press.

“Their basic aim is to use Christianity to change the character of the regime…in China and overturn it,” he added.

The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in countries where Islam is the dominant faith, the report says, quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.

“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” it claims.

The report shows that “Muslim-majority” states make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance by Freedom House, the human rights think tank.

It catalogues hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.

It claims George Bush’s use of the word “crusade” after the September 11 attacks on New York created the impression for Muslims in the Middle East of a “Christian assault on the Muslim world”.

“But however the motivation for violence is measured, the early twenty-first century has seen a steady rise in the strife endured by Christians,” the report says.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable than ever”, highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Fr Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 further priests and two bishops between 2006 and 2010.

“In most cases, those responsible declared that they wanted all Christians to be expelled from the country,” the report says.

In Pakistan, the murder last year of Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s Catholic minister for minorities, “vividly reflected” religious intolerance in Pakistan.

Shortly after his death it emerged that Mr Bhatti had recorded a video in which he declared: “I am living for my community and for suffering people and I will die to defend their rights.

“I prefer to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise. I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us.”

The report also warns that Christians in India have faced years of violence from Hindu extremists. In 2010 scores of attacks on Christians and church property were carried out in Karnataka, a state in south west India.

And while many people are aware of the oppression faced in Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists, targeted abuse of Christians in the country has been given little exposure, the report says.

In some areas of Burma the government has clamped down on Christian protesters by restricting the building of new churches.

“Openly professing Christians employed in government service find it virtually impossible to get promotion,” it adds.

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Comments (3)

  1. The problem with muslims is that, they always look for someone to pin their lots on. They resort to violence if they do not get their way

    Look at Nigeria,Mali, somalia,yemen,muritania..but to name a few. The religion was never associated with peace,as it faithfuls claim. The killl in d name of 72 virgins and a promise to paradise. Who in his right mind would do such ? Muslims will..there are just too many fanatics in Islam. Wherever u find large numbers of muslim, violence will sure erupt at d slightest provocation. D christian is faith endures all. If the xtians shld take up arms in retaliation..u can guess what will happen !

  2. It is true that the number of Christian faithfuls is declining in the Middle East. Same in Europe and US.(Please confirm this by running a search on the internet) In my opinion two reasons are responsible for that. Firstly the number of converts from mostly christian faith to Islam is on the rise. Secondly the rate of birth within couples that marry at prime youthful age in life is another possible reason. A "report" was mentioned without a source. Typical of arm chair jounalism bent on presenting fictions as cardinal truth. The "report" alledged prosecusion of christians by militants. Yet it is a well known facts that such militants are the handiwork and creation of West and US government. Kindly run a search in youtube. There a vedeo clip whre Hillary Clinton confessed to that effect) Additionally muslims are the largest victims of these US sponsored terrorist act. What is currently happening in Syrian is the most recent and live instance in which EU nations, US and Israel are supporting the armed insurgens with deadly weapons and at the same time frustrating all efforts at bringing about a peaceful resolution of the crisis;on both sides of the divide muslims constitute 99.99% of the casualities. Add this to the US criminal activities of assasination drones that kill muslims on daily basis in Yamen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, to name but a few.

    Whoever commits any act of aggression against fellow human being stands condemed no matter who the victims may be. Take the recent senseless killngs that happened and is still happenning in US neither the gunman ( non of the Western media called him a terrorist) as well as the victims were muslims. Yet muslims all over the world express their sympathy even though at the same very moment US drones are killikng women and children in Pakistan, Yamen and Afghanistan. We acknowledge the fact that only people shot of ideas and logic will have violence as the only means of sorting out difference. As such a religion that cherish and promote knowledge shall never be associated with terrorism. Then the question now is Alqaeda and its affliates clamis to be muslims and they are synounymous with bloodshed. Well if they claim to be muslims we can't deny that. But accusing the religion they claimed to adhere to for their crimes is the highest of prejudice and subjectivity. Those responsible for the first and second world war are never muslims. And we all know the religion they profess. Yet we do not see such a religion as the brain behind their heneous crime. US government is responsible for atomic crime in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We know the religion US president confess but have never and will never attribute their crimes to the religion they profess. As muslims we demand just that. Nothing more. Merry Chrismas to all Christian faithfuls.

  3. It is true that the number of Christian faithfuls is declining in the Middle East. Even in Europe and US. Two reasons are responsible for that. Firstly the number of converts from mostly christian faith to Islam is on the rise. Secondly the rate of birth within couples relatively earlier is another possible reason. A report was mentioned without a source. Typical of arm chair jounalism bent on presenting fictions as cardinal truth. The "report" alledged prosecusion of christians by militants. Yet it is a well known facts that such militants are the handiwork and creation of West and US government. Additionally muslims are the largest victims of these US sponsored terrorist act. What is currently happening in Syrian is most recent instance in which EU nations, US and Israel are supporting the armed insurgents with deadly weapons and at the same time all efforts at bringing about a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Add this to the US criminal activities of assasins drones that kill muslims on daily basis in Yamen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, to name but a few.

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