Op-ed

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Christians are persecuted around the world

by Candice Malcolm

Toronto Sun
December 23, 2016

Christians are under attack around the world. While Christians in Canada are peacefully observing and celebrating Christmas, many others around the world aren’t granted this basic freedom.

Earlier this week, a militant Islamist deliberately rammed a transport truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. His rampage left 12 people dead and another 48 injured. German police have confirmed that this was a jihadist terrorist attack, which they believe was carried out by Tunisian migrant Anis Amri. The suspect was killed by police in Milan four days after the attack.

The terrorist purposely targeted Christians. And because of his attack, Christmas markets across Europe and North America have had to ramp up security and live in fear of another attack.

This wasn’t the only time Christians were killed while celebrating a religious holiday in 2016.

On Easter Sunday, an Islamist terrorist organization attacked Christians at a park in Lahore, Pakistan. A suicide bomber struck with a powerful blast that killed 75 people and injured 340 more.

These are not isolated incidents. Sadly, there is a larger trend of Christians being targeted around the world.

According to a recent Pew research study, Christians in 52% of the world’s countries are not free to practice their religion. Instead, they are harassed, persecuted, imprisoned and even killed just because they are Christian.

Christians are now the most persecuted religious group in the world.

Just look at the plight of Christians in their biblical homeland, the Middle East. Over the past hundred years, between half and two-thirds of Christians in Middle East have been killed or driven away by dictators, mobs and terrorist organizations.

Syria was once home to a vibrant Christian community, and Christians once comprised about 30% of the population. Thanks to decades of persecution, however, Syria’s Christian population has fallen to a fraction of its former size.

Christians now make up less than 10% of the population in Syria. And their numbers continue to fall, thanks to the Islamic State and their genocidal campaign against Assyrian Christians and other minority religious groups.

In neighbouring Iraq, Christianity’s roots date back to the first century. But according to a 2016 report by the Knights of Columbus, Iraq’s Christian population has dropped by a staggering 80% in just over a decade.

In 2003, 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq. Today, only about a quarter of a million remain.

The troubling purge against Iraqi Christians is, by definition, a genocide.

Even Lebanon – a country created as a safe haven for Christians in the Middle East – is quietly experiencing its own exodus of Christians.

Following the First World War, Lebanon was a majority Christian country. Nearly 85% of the Lebanese population, at the time, was Christian. Today, that number has fallen below 40%. The Christian community’s political rights and guaranteed representation in the

Lebanese government are also being eroded by hardline Islamists.

The war against Christians does not end in the Middle East.

In Communist China, the government regularly jails Christian priests and dissidents. It has undertaken an aggressive campaign to destroy churches and tear down Christian crosses wherever it can.

All across the world, Christians are under siege. Some governments, like those in Middle East and China, are aiding the persecution. Other governments, like our own in Canada, are simply turning a blind eye to it.

This Christmas, we should recognize the plight of Christians worldwide, and pledge to do better to protect and preserve the world’s threatened Christian communities in 2017.

Image: Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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