A recent survey conducted by several NGOs, shows Christian asylum seekers, and members of other religious minorities, living in refugee shelters in Germany encounter systematic persecution every day from both Muslim refugees and Muslim staff.
According to the survey, as many as 743 Christian refugees and 10 Yazidis refugees living in refugee centers across Germany have reported religiously motivated attacks between February and September 2016. The survey stresses that the collected data should be “considered… as the tip of the iceberg” because there are a high number of unreported cases.
56 percent of the affected refugees said they were subjected to violent assaults and beatings. 42 percent said that they or members of their family received death threats from fellow refugees and Muslim staff and volunteers.
Forty-four Christian refugees reported sexual attacks. In a press conference in Berlin on October 17, presenters of the survey added that all the attacks reported were motivated by fact that the victims weren’t Muslim.
83 percent of the refugees who participated in the survey said they faced persecution “several times” while only 8 percent said it only happened to them once.
Most of the Christian refugees subjected to persecution in the German centers came from Syria and Iran and half of them were converts from Islam. 75 percent of refugees surveyed were men and half of the participants were younger than 35.
The survey stressed that those who converted to Christianity from Islam face the highest risk of persecution because “according to the Quran, their change of faith is considered as a crime worthy of the death penalty, therefore they are explicitly in danger.”
The survey also says that many refugees uphold concepts and ideas from their home countries, so despite the fact that they are now in Germany, “anyone who converts from Islam to Christianity has committed a major offence. What is more, converts sometimes experience harsh rejection by Muslim security guards and interpreters.”
Due to fear of escalating the situation, only 17 percent of affected refugees contact the police and report the violence committed against them.
Paulus Kurt from the Central Council of Oriental Christians in Germany told German Die Welt daily that in some cases, persecution they faced in the German refugee centers was so bad that some Christian refugees had to return to their home countries
Upon hearing the results of the survey, many German politicians were outraged. In a press conference after the presentation of the survey, Martin Neumeyer, the Bavarian government’s commissioner on integration, said, “those who terrorize Christians or atheists in the refugee shelters should have no right to apply for asylum.”
However, some German states are downplaying the issues. The Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, where more than 120 cases of attacks on Christian refugees were recorded, claimed that there was “no evidence of religiously motivated attacks on Christian refugees or other religious minorities.”
The charities that conducted the survey came up with solutions to help protect religious minorities in the refugee camps. First, they believe there should be at least an equal number of Christians and Muslims in those centers who live together, but they stress that they have “long called for” separate accommodations for Muslim and non-Muslim refugees. Second, they said that more non-Muslim staff members should be employed at the refugee centers in order for religious conflicts to be properly handled.
The persecution Christians continue to face in refugee asylum camps has led to many Christians staying to slums and make shift camps instead of the UN camps. Because of this, these Christians can’t file for refugee status with the United Nations.