Believers are facing unprecedented levels of violenceby Rachel Halliburton / December 19, 2016 / Leave a comment
The bombing of a chapel adjacent to Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral on 11th December, which killed at least 25 people, marks the latest in a series of violent episodes that threatens the existence of Christianity in the Middle East. The prospect of the extinction of the church in the region where it originated should be one of the dominant stories of our times, yet somehow it is overlooked amid the other tragedies that have followed the Arab Spring. Among the corpses of Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Yazidis, Druze, and Kurds, the bodies of Christians are, for some, just another statistic in the catastrophic breakdown of society.
Yet Christianity is now the most persecuted religion in the world. In 2014, the Pew Report found that Christians were being harassed in 151 countries (Muslims, the next most persecuted group, were oppressed in 135). According to the Christian charity Open Doors, in 2016 North Korea is the worst place to be a Christian, but Iraq ranks second, Syria fifth and Libya tenth. The Middle East has witnessed the most dramatic escalation in atrocities—a fact acknowledged in February when the European Parliament recognised Islamic State’s persecution of Christians and other religious minorities as genocide.