New Report Shows ‘Accelerated Targeting’ of Christians in Middle East

Oct 19th, 2016 | By | Category: News Posts
Islamic State group has again claimed responsibility for the killing of dozens of Christians.

Islamic State group has again claimed responsibility for the killing of dozens of Christians.

The Middle East continues to witness an enhanced targeting of Christians. “Civil war in Syria and Iraq has unleashed a tidal wave of violent persecution, to the extent that this targeted persecution is now widely recognized around the globe,” cites a report presented by Open Doors UK.

An estimated 50% and 80% of Christians have left Syria and Iraq.

According to the Open Door’s report, prior to 2011, the Christian population of Syria number about 8 percent of the total population of 22 million.  In Iraq there were about 1.5 million Christians before 2003. Today, estimates show the Christian population is somewhere between 200,000-250,000. Despite this, Christians make up a small and disproportionate number of Iraqi refugees.

The report claimed that “we are faced with significant evidence that Middle Eastern Christians are suffering disproportionately, and, in many cases, being targeted because they are Christians.”

Nazarene_Pin_Ad_300pxThe report draws from extensive conversations with community leaders and church members in both Iraq and Syria. These conversations lead to notes on cases of Christians taken hostage; church leaders being assassinated; Christian homes, businesses and churches destroyed; and women and young girls raped and forced into sex slavery.

Some living in ISIS territory were forced to pay the jizya tax and others were forced to leave their homes.

According to the report, Christians “were denied full freedom of religion and belief before 2003 in Iraq and 2011 in Syria- especialy those who chose to follow Christianity from a Muslim background,” and radical Islamic groups in Iraq are working towards a religious cleansing, wanting to make the country “purely Islamic.”

According to Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, Iraq ranks second and Syria fifth among 50 countries where Christians face the most pressure because of their faith.

World Watch Monitor sums up the goal of the report as this:

“The report, titled “Hope for the Middle East: The impact and significance of the Christian presence in Syria and Iraq: past, present and future”, aims to encourage national and international actors to “ensure that the current and future legal frameworks in Syria and Iraq fully promote and protect the equal and inalienable rights” of all, including Christians, whose historic contributions to their homelands it elucidates.”

“The report, part of the Hope for the Middle East campaign – a seven year global project – wants to ensure a dignified and continued improvement of living conditions for all citizens, but especially for returning refugees and the internally displaced.

“Christians want to be seen as Iraqi or Syrian citizens, enjoying the full rights of citizenship, such as equality before the law and full protection of their right to freedom of religion or belief, including the ability for everyone to freely worship, practise, teach, choose and change their religion,” the report says.”



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