AFRICANGLOBE – Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshipers, reports the Telegraph.
Now more than ever, Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.
And what is troubling is that politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.
Converts from Islam being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.
The report, by the think tank Civitas, cites estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”
The report, entitled Christianophobia, highlights a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them.
State Hostility Towards Christianity
State hostility towards Christianity is particularly rife in China, where more Christians are imprisoned than in any other country in the world, according to the report.
It quotes Ma Hucheng, an advisor to the Chinese government, who claimed in an article last year that the US has backed the growth of the Protestant Church in China as a vehicle for political dissidence.
The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in countries where Islam is the dominant faith, the report says, quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.
“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” it claims.
The report shows that “Muslim-majority” states make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance by Freedom House, the human rights think tank.
It catalogues hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.
It claims George Bush’s use of the word “crusade” after the September 11 attacks on New York created the impression for Muslims in the Middle East of a “Christian assault on the Muslim world”.
In most cases, those responsible declared that they wanted all Christians to be expelled from the country.
While many people are aware of the oppression faced in Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists, targeted abuse of Christians in the country has been given little exposure, the report says.
In some areas of Burma the government has clamped down on Christian protesters by restricting the building of new churches.