While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Susan Michael, U.S. director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), told JNS that “Islamic extremism originated in the Middle East and is the main cause of persecution of Christians in the world today. It is a dangerous and violent ideology that must be stopped.”
Egypt’s embattled Christian minority, which comprises roughly 10 percent of the country’s population and stands as the largest Christian community in the region, has been the frequent target of Islamic terrorism. Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta were struck by suicide bombers last April, killing 45 people on Palm Sunday. Last December, at least eight Christians were killed in a terror attack on a Coptic church south of Cairo.
According to the Open Doors report, Egyptian Christians suffer in “various ways” such as pressure on Christian converts to return to Islam, severe restrictions on building places of worship and congregating, and violence.
“Egyptian Christians have had significant attacks and pressure from extremist elements seeking to impose sharia standards on minority faiths, as well as from ISIS factions that want to use Christians as a useful target to undermine the Egyptian government and economy,” David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, told JNS. He added that the report “shows that people who want to make a decision to explore or practice the Christian faith face great cultural pressure, if not violence.”
Adel Guindy, the former president of Coptic Solidarity, a U.S.-based human rights organization that promotes equality for Coptic Christians in Egypt, told JNS that the situation for the Copts has worsened considerably under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi—despite his rhetoric in support of Christians and against radical Islam—and has reached “an all-time high.”
“El-Sisi is quick to blame it on ‘external forces,’ [but] it is in fact homegrown. It’s a direct result of a permeating hate culture that dominates the entire public space,” Guindy said.
The rest of the Middle East
Elsewhere, the Open Doors report noted that Christian converts in Jordan face “a great deal of persecution, Christians in the Palestinian territories (Gaza Strip and West Bank) are “caught in the middle of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and that “Islamic militant groups are the clear threat” to Syrian Christians.
“The persecution of Christians in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories does not necessarily come from their governments, but from their populations who have been indoctrinated with Islamic theological teachings that are hostile to non-Muslims. It will take a significant amount of years of intentional education to change that attitude,” said ICEJ’s Michael.
The report identified North Korea as the country where Christians face the highest level of discrimination, followed by Afghanistan and Somalia. More than 3,000 Christians were killed worldwide due to their faith last year.
Other Middle Eastern and North African countries that were ranked among the top 10 most dangerous places for Christians were Libya, Iraq, Iran and Yemen.
“Whether in North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, the Palestinian territories or elsewhere, the persecution of Christians has reached near-epidemic levels,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. “We urge world leaders and international organizations like the U.N. to bring this crisis to the top of their collective agenda and seek to protect endangered Christian minorities and all people of faith.”
The persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries presents a stark contrast to the world’s only Jewish state, where the Christian population has steadily increased in recent years to about 170,000, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Israeli Christians enjoy freedom of worship, and even regularly outperform their Jewish and Muslim counterparts in high school matriculation exams.
“The Arab-Christian minority in Israel is a minority within a minority and faces some challenges, but they are citizens of a democracy that protects their freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” Michael said. “This is in such contrast to the Muslim countries around them, where Christians and their places of worship are regularly attacked. There is a growing number of Christians voluntarily serving in the Israel Defense Forces in order to protect their country and their freedoms from the forces of Islamic militants wanting to destroy Israel.”
The future for Mideast Christians
Guindy said that recent trends “make it difficult to predict” whether Mideast Christians can survive “the current tsunami” of persecution.
“The picture is rather gloomy, and the fact that Christians’ presence in the Middle East has shrunk from one-fifth of the population a century ago to barely 3 percent today speaks volumes….Islamistpressure, coupled with the West’s lack of action beyond hollow words of sympathy, make it difficult to be realistically optimistic,” he said.
Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories are amongst the most dangerous places on earth for Christians, according to a new report.
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.
Just 12 months ago, the Islamic State branch that operates in and around Egypt designated the northern African country’s Christian minority their “favorite prey” in a 20-minute propaganda video.
#ISIS pledges to kill all Christians in #Egypt new propaganda video.#Christian#Jesus #Church #Copts pic.twitter.com/7z2GYa4T37
— Chris Tomson (@TheDaneChris) February 19, 2017
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. As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, 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.
In our weatern culture its a different type of persecution where we get socially left out at work in church and family ridiculed not conforming with the majority etc. That can be very dangerous 2 our faith. There's a movie about this i think its called gold through the fire. You feel alone sometimes
Yea, but this will get worse in the west - the demonization process has already started - thats stage 1....Once we are perceived as "less human" then it worsens and we're almost to that point unfortunately
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