Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories are amongst the most dangerous places on earth for Christians, according to a new report.
By – Simon Kent
Although Christians claim the area as their Biblical heartland alongside Israel, persecution and discrimination, especially in the past 15 years, means they now constitute no more than three to four per cent per cent of the region’s population, down from 20 per cent a century ago.
Hard-line Islamic views and state-sanctioned “religio-ethnic cleansing”are the key drivers behind the Christian genocide.
Now the latest report released by the British Christian charity group Open Doors, an organization that monitors ill-treated Christians worldwide, reveals Egyptian Christians in particular are found to suffer in “various ways” such as pressure to convert to Islam, severe restrictions on building places of worship and congregating, and outright violence.
Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, which comprises roughly 10 percent of the country’s population, has been the frequent target of Islamic terrorism with Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta both struck by suicide bombers last April, killing 49 and leaving more than 100 injured on Palm Sunday.
Last December, a squad of terrorist gunmen attacked the Mar Mina church in southern Cairo, killing between eight and ten people and wounding at least five more.
“Christians in Egypt face a barrage of discrimination and intimidation yet they refuse to give up their faith. It is hard for us…to imagine being defined by our religion every single day in every sphere of life,” Open Doors UK and Ireland CEO Lisa Pearce said in a statement.
“In Egypt, as in many other Middle Eastern countries, your religion is stated on your identity card,” she said. “This makes discrimination and persecution easy — you are overlooked for jobs, planning permits are hard to obtain and you are a target when you go to church.”
Overall, North Korea stands at the top of a list of 50 countries where at least 215 million Christians faced the most severe persecution in 2017, resulting in 3,066 deaths and 1,020 rapes mainly targeting women.
The Open Doors report follows previous warnings that Christians in the Middle East are teetering on the eve of destruction.
In 2015 a report titled Persecuted & Forgotten?, disturbing data outlined the plunging numbers of Christians in the part of the world that gave birth to the faith and made a dire prediction of what the future holds. The alarming rate of decline in the Biblical heartlands means Christianity could vanish in areas it has called home for millennia unless the world steps in.
To that end, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has previously urged EU leaders to protect Christianity in the Middle East, or risk its destruction.
He said his country was taking the lead on extending aid to Christian minorities, and, in particular, on supporting programmes to help them return to their homelands in safety.
Read more: 2017/10/08