Tuesday, May 17

More than 360 million Christians persecuted in the world, according to an NGO

In 2021, more than 360 million Christians were persecuted and discriminated against because of their faith, according to the annual report of the NGO Portes Ouvertes published on Wednesday.

“Persecution is at a record level, in a context of global health crisis, the coming to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the plunge into horror for Christian victims of jihadists in sub-Saharan Africa”, said Patrick Victor, director of Open doors France and Belgium, during a press briefing.

This Protestant NGO publishes an annual “global index” of the persecution of Christians, listing all attacks, ranging from “discreet daily oppression” to “the most extreme violence”.

Between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021, “more than 360 million Christians” (Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Baptists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, etc.), from 76 countries, who were “persecuted and discriminated against”, compared to 340 million in 2020, the NGO reported.

In 2021, 5,898 Christians were killed, an increase of 24% compared to the previous year when 4,761 cases were recorded. Eight out of ten Christians killed were in Nigeria.

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In addition, the total number of churches closed, attacked, destroyed rose to 5,110 last year from 4,488 in 2020.

China alone contributes to 59% of closures. This country “is now extending its undermining work discreetly by using the health crisis. The maneuver is simple: the churches are closed at the same time as the other places welcoming the public during the confinements. Then, the authorities take the opportunity to officially declare (their) closure”, according to the NGO.

Doors Open also notes a “44% increase in the number of Christians detained because of their faith” (4,277 cases recorded in 2020, 6,175 cases in 2021). India (1,310), Pakistan (at least 1,000 estimated detainees) and China (at least 1,000 estimated detainees) are the top three.

All persecution combined, Afghanistan topped this annual ranking, dethroning North Korea, in 2nd position. Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea and Nigeria follow. In Afghanistan, the persecution took “a new dimension with the seizure of power by the Taliban”, says the NGO.

“The Taliban have obtained documents allowing the identification of certain converts to Christianity. They actively sought them out. Converted men are killed on the spot, women or girls raped, or forcibly married off to young Taliban,” said Guillaume Guennec, another head of Portes Ouvertes.

The NGO also warns of the situation in India, where “Hindu extremists use social networks (…) to spread false information and calls for violence against religious minorities”, contributing to the “climate of ‘intolerance”.


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