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Islamic extremism to blame as Christian deaths nearly double in a year – report

News | 09.01.2014 | 10:17

At least 2,100 Christians died in 2013 according to a report by a group monitoring persecution of Christians worldwide. Most of the dead were in Syria, where radical Islamist groups have clamped down on a long-established religious minority.

Open Doors, a US-based non-denominational group that first formed in the 1950s smuggling Bibles into Communist Eastern Europe, conducts an annual survey of 50 countries where Christians suffer the worst discrimination. 

“Overwhelmingly, the main engine driving persecution of Christians in 36 of the top 50 countries is Islamic extremism,” write the authors. 

North Korea, which is officially atheist but is dominated by the Kims’ personality cult, and where merely owning a Bible is reportedly grounds enough for a life sentence or execution, remains the worst country in the world for Christians. Open Doors claims that as many as 70,000 believers are in North Korean labor camps and prisons. 

But the rest of the top five is made up of Muslim states suffering from internal instability, with Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan all earning a place. 

Of these, the situation has worsened “least surprisingly” in Syria, which had a Christian population of more than 1.7 million prior to the start of the internal conflict nearly three years ago. 

“The Syrian opposition is increasingly ‘Islamizing’, and Christians are becoming more vulnerable in all spheres of life. Many Christians were reported to have been abducted, physically harmed or killed, and many churches damaged or destroyed,” write the authors. 

The situation has deteriorated fundamentally since professional foreign jihadists, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), joined the fray. 

The most notable recent attacks have been on centuries-old Aramaic-speaking communities, such as Maaloula and Sadad. 

Open Doors, which says that it uses conservative estimates sourced from the news media and believers on the ground, claims that at a “minimal count”, 1,213 Christians were “martyred” in the country last year. The figure is higher than the world total for 2012. 

Nigeria, which has a roughly equal split between Christians and Muslims, is next on the list with 612 deaths, mostly at the hands of newly-active militias in the north, such as Boko Haram, which frequently bombs Christian schools and churches. 

In Somalia, “retreating al-Shabaab rebels vent their anger by imposing an even more restrictive form of Sharia law” and while the Christian minority is small, anyone who is found out to follow the faith risks execution. 

Open Doors predicts that Central African Republic, which erupted into a civil war at the end of last year, could be the hotspot to watch out for in 2014. 

“The country has been torn apart by warlords and especially foreign mercenaries from Chad and Sudan who target Christians for rape, robbery and murder,” write the authors. 

“Like Mali last year, Central African Republic shows how rapidly a seemingly stable state can disintegrate and a Christian minority or even majority can come to the brink of extinction.”


Tags: Al Qaeda Africa Middle East Syria

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    Leonid SAVIN

Eight European Union Crises

The influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the chronic financial instability of a number of EU member states, is just the tip of the iceberg that looms ominously in Europe’s path. In fact, the foundations of the edifice of the European Union are being simultaneously undermined by several interrelated crises...

Aeroflot AFISMA African Union Africom AIIB AIPAC Al Qaeda Al Shabaab Al-Jazeera ALBA Amnesty International Anonymous Ansar Allah APEC Arab League ASEAN ATAKA Atomstroyexport Bank for International Settlements Bank of America Barclays Basel Committee BBC Bilderberg Club Black Bloc BlackRock Blackwater Boco Haram BP BRICS CARICOM CELAC Center for Responsive Politics CEPAL Chatham House Chevron CIA CICA CIS Citigroup CNN Committee of 147 Committee of 300 Council of Europe Council on Foreign Relations Crescent Crescent Petroleum CSTO Customs Union CyberBerkut DARPA Davos DEA Defense Intelligence Agency DIA Dragon Family E.ON Eager Lion ECOWAS EDA ELNET Enbridge Pipelines ETA EU EULEX EurAsEc Eurasian Union European Commission European Court of Human Rights European Union Exxon Mobil Facebook FAO FARC FATAH FBI FDA Federal Reserve FIFA Financial Action Task Force Financial Stability Board Fitch FIVE EYES Franklin Templeton Freedom House FRS FSB FTA FUEN G-4 G20 G7 G8 GATA Gazprom GCHQ GECF Gladio Glonass Goldman Sachs Google Green Group Greenpeace GUAM Guardian Gulf Cooperation Council Hague Tribunal HAMAS Heritage Foundation Hezbollah Hizb ut-Tahrir Hollywood HSBC Human Rights Watch IAEA IEA IHRC IMF International Criminal Court Interpol IOC ISAF Islamic jihad Islamic Revolution Guards Corps ITERA Jamestown Jobbik JP Morgan Jundullah KFOR KLA Ku Klux Klan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Lukoil Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mercosur Microsoft Missile defense Missile Defense Agency Monsanto Moody's Morgan Stanley Mossad Most-Favoured Nation Mujahedin-e Khalq Muslim Brotherhood Nabucco NAFTA Naftogaz NASA Nation of Islam National Security Agency NATO NDAA NDI NED Non-aligned Movement NORAD Nord Stream NORTHCOM Northern Distribution Network NSA OECD Oerlikon OIC OPCW OPEC Open Government Partnership Organization of American States OSCE OTW movement OUN / UPA PACE PACOM Pan-Europa movement Pegida Pentagon PJAK PKK Podemos PRISM PYD Red Cross Renova Republican Party Rosatom Roscosmos Rosneft Rosoboronexport Ruhrgas RusAl RWE SABSA Scientology Shanghai Cooperation Organization Shell Siemens South Stream Southern Command Standard & Poor's Statoil Strategic Nuclear Forces Stratfor SWF SWIFT Syrian National Council SYRIZA Taliban Tamarod TAPI TeleSur TNK-BP Total Transneft TTIP TTP Turkish Stream Twitter UN UN International Court UNASUR UNESCO UNICEF USAID Valdai Club Visegrad Group Wall Street Westinghouse WHO Wikileaks World Bank WTO Yukos “Mass Atrocity Response Operations”

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