Islamic extremism main source of persecution of Christians, report says

The Palestinian territories ranked as the #26 country where Christians face the most persecution.

January 11, 2015 16:08
2 minute read.

Christian refugees flee ISIS. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Middle East is the most violent region in the world for Christians, according to a report released recently by the Open Doors World Watch List; and the Palestinian territories were listed among the ranks

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The report, which details the top 50 countries where it says it is most difficult to be a Christian, indicates that worldwide persecution has increased in the past year, predominantly in Muslim countries. From November 2013 to October 2014, researchers measured the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out his or her faith in five spheres of life: private, family, community, national and church life, plus a sixth category measuring the degree of violence.

The results indicate that regions of Africa and the Middle East are the most dangerous overall for Christians. Christians in forty of the fifty countries mentioned on the list reportedly deal with persecution as a result of Islamic extremism. Nearly 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, thus making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world, according to the report. As this persecution reaches historic levels, researchers believe the worst is yet to come.

“Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith.”

The Palestinian territories were ranked #26 among countries where Christians face the most persecution. While the territory’s prominent religion is Islam, 40,000 of its 4.5 million inhabitants identify as Christian.

“Dynamics of Christian persecution in the Palestinian territories are complex," the report reads. “Christians are squeezed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; their ethnicity entailing many restrictions from the Israeli side and their religion putting them in a minority position within the Palestinian community.”

Of all Christians present in the Palestinian territories, Christian converts from a Muslim background are persecuted the most, followed by historical Christians and non-traditional Protestants in Gaza.

Iraq and Syria also topped the list, due to the intense persecution Christians they are experiencing at the hand of the Islamic State. More than 70 percent of Christians have left Iraq since 2003 and over 700,000 Christians have fled Syria in the past four years. Other Middle Eastern countries and territories on the link include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Turkey, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

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