Middle East ‘Christian exodus’ underway – report

A Christian exodus of “biblical proportions” from across the Middle East now threatens the survival of the faith in the region, a new report reveals.

Persecuted and Forgotten has been compiled by the international charity group Aid to the Church in Need and, among 30 countries covered worldwide, details the deteriorating situation for Christian communities across the Muslim world as the fallout from the Arab spring continues. More than in other areas, the report points out, the continued presence of Christianity there is at stake.

According to ACN: “For Christians the so-called ‘Arab spring’ has in many cases become a ‘Christian winter’. Although the political upheavals have brought suffering to people of all faith communities, nonetheless it is above all the Christian confessions that have experienced the most open hostility and violence. They have become victims of every kind of political, economic, social and religious conflict – for example the conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. As a result, a great many Christians have been forced to flee.”

Launching the Persecuted and Forgotten report, John Pontifex of ACN said its contents presented a challenge to countries who claim to stand for religious freedom.“From all accounts, the incidents of persecution are now apparently relentless and worsening; churches being burnt, Christians under pressure to convert, mob violence against Christian homes, abduction and rape of Christian girls, anti-Christian propaganda in the media and from Government, discrimination in schools and the workplace… the list goes on. Persecuted and Forgotten begs deep questions about the international community’s commitment to standing up for religious freedom.”

The ACN report came as the latest incident of Christian violence in Egypt left three people, including a young girl, dead, when a gunman on a motorbike opened fire on worshippers leaving a Coptic church in Cairo. At least nine others were injured in the attack.