by Uzay Bulut
According to a recent interim report published in the U.K., "it is estimated that one third of the world's population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group."
Although the full report -- commissioned by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and conducted by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen -- was due to be released by Easter this year, "the scale and nature of the phenomenon [of Christian persecution] simply required more time," according to the report. As a result, Mounstephen explained, the "interim" findings released in April are incomplete, and the final report will be published at the end of June.
According to the "overview" section of the interim "Independent Review of FCO support for Persecuted Christians":
"In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN."
Africa -- now home to the greatest number of Christians in the world -- is one such region.
On June 16, for instance, a Christian elementary school in a Muslim village in Uganda was destroyed, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.
On June 15, "a mob of Muslim protestors set a church ablaze in Maradi, the third largest city in Niger. The incident was a response to the arrest of a very prominent Imam who was arrested after he claimed the country's proposed legislation on worship was 'anti-Islamic.'"
On June 9 and 10, two terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso left 29 Christians dead. This purposeful slaughter of Christians came less than two months after the April 28 massacre of 80-year-old pastor, Pierre Ouédraogo, and other members of his congregation in Burkina Faso, by armed Islamists. A local leader, who requested anonymity, told World Watch Monitor:
"The assailants asked the Christians to convert to Islam, but the pastor and the others refused. They ordered them to gather under a tree and took their Bibles and mobile phones. Then they called them, one after the other, behind the church building where they shot them dead."
On June 7, a Christian woman in Niger was kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists and released three days later with a letter calling on all Christians to "leave the town within three days or be killed."
The above incidents are not isolated. According to the 2019 World Watch Listcompiled by Open Doors, a persecution watchdog group:
"While the violent excesses of ISIS and other Islamic militants have mostly disappeared from headlines from the Middle East, their loss of territory there means that fighters have dispersed to a larger number of countries not only in the region but, increasingly, into sub-Saharan Africa. Their radical ideology has inspired, or infiltrated, numerous splinter groups such as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a deadly group that broke away from Nigeria's Boko Haram that also enslaves Christian women and girls as an integral part of their strategy."