News

Persecution of Christians worsens

Cliona Connolly
10.11.2017 - 12:53
A meeting of EPP Group Interreligious Dialogue Members with representatives of Aid to the Church in Need at the European Parliament, Strasbourg this week.

At least 75 percent of all religiously-motivated violence and oppression is carried out against Christians and such persecution has worsened in the last two years, according to a new report entitled 'Persecuted and Forgotten? A report of Christians Persecution and Oppression in the World 2015 – 2017'. The study, produced by Aid to the Church in Need, was presented at a meeting of EPP Group Interreligious Dialogue hosted by co-chairs György Hölvényi MEP and Jan Olbrycht MEP at the European Parliament recently (pictured).

MEPs heard findings drawn from fact-finding trips, first-hand testimonies and facts and figures related to 12 countries in particular where the situation is extremely serious: China, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, North Korea, India, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan and Turkey.

Mr Hölvényi urged politicians to use their diplomatic roles and raise their voices for the voiceless people being persecuted due to their religious beliefs

György Hölvényi MEP welcomed the research carried out to date and stressed the importance of further, detailed fact-gathering to obtain more insights for greater global awareness of the gravity of the situation facing Christians in some parts of the world. Mr Hölvényi urged politicians to use their diplomatic roles and raise their voices for the voiceless people being persecuted due to their religious beliefs.

“In worst-offending North Korea, unspeakable atrocities against Christians include enforced starvation, abortion and reports of faithful being hung on crosses over a fire and others being crushed under a steamroller,” the report states.

Guest speakers told MEPs that the exodus of Christians in Iraq is so severe that one of the world’s oldest churches is on course to all but disappear within three years unless there is dramatic change for the better. This same exodus is threatening the survival of Christianity in parts of Syria including Aleppo, formerly home to one of the largest Christian communities in the whole of the Middle East. The defeat of Daesh and other militant extremists in major strongholds of the Middle East offers the last hope of recovery for Christian groups threatened with extinction. Many would not survive another similar violent attack, according to the report’s findings. While Daesh-affiliated Boko Haram has carried out genocide against Christians in northern Nigeria.

While politicians are creating solutions but they do not stop weapons trade, for example, the oppression will never end Jan Olbrycht MEP

Christians have suffered increased violence and oppression as a result of a rise in religious nationalism, according to religious organisations. In India, for example, persecution has risen sharply since the rise to power of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

Jan Olbrycht MEP underlined the importance of political influence in ending such oppression and violence: “While politicians are creating solutions but they do not stop weapons trade, for example, the oppression will never end”.

The MEPs expressed deep sadness that the persecution of Christians is worse today than ever before and committed to keep the issue of the persecution of Christians high on the EU agenda.

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