According to Patriarch Cyril, the persecution of Christians continues in the modern world: for example, about a hundred thousand people have been killed over the past year, and this is without taking Syria into account. Moreover, the primate is sure that this situation is not properly reflected in the world media. Who and where persecutes Christians for their faith, understood the newspaper VIEW.
“Christianity is still being persecuted in many places on the planet. According to statistics, more than 2012 thousands of Christians were killed in the 100 year, and about 2013 thousands in the 70 year. Innocent people are killed only because they are Christians. At the same time, it is impossible to include in this statistics the number of our co-religionists who died in Syria, where the armed conflict has lasted for three years, ”said the patriarch at the opening of the Christmas readings in Moscow. Listing the countries in which Christians are persecuted, Cyril, in addition to Syria, also called Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. But in fact, these countries are much more.
Starting a conversation about the persecution and murder of Christians, inevitably come across problems with the counting methodology. Is the terrorist attacks committed in Volgograd and Boston considered killing Christians, for example? On the one hand, the terrorists were Islamists, and the majority of their victims were Christians, on the other hand, people were generally targeted, regardless of their religiosity or religious affiliation (the attack itself was important).
Another example: civilian massacre in black Africa, where Christians are killed by Muslims, as, indeed, and vice versa. The cause of such conflicts is often political or tribal opposition, i.e. a person is killed for belonging to a people or a party, and not to faith, but at the same time the opposing tribe may also profess a different religion, including intentionally, so as not to have anything in common with the enemies. Or take the Christian Philippines. Only on the island of Mindanao since 1970, a half dozen Catholic priests were deliberately killed. However, the radicals from the separatist group of the Islamic Moro Liberation Front can be the killers, as well as the tycoons of the local mining companies, which are often opposed by the priests, defending their flock.
Whatever it was, the figures voiced by the patriarch coincide, for example, with the data of the Italian sociologist and coordinator of the Observatory on Religious Freedom Massimo Introvigne - 70 thousands in 2013, 100 thousands in 2012. At the same time, the OSCE Council already talks about the 105 of thousands of Christians killed in 2013, while the Vatican calls the number in 170 thousands. That is, 100 thousands can be called minimal data.
There is also a tendency towards an increase in violence against Christians, observed not for the first year. As early as the beginning of 2011, PACE and the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning discrimination against Christians in the modern world. A little later, the Italian Foreign Minister announced that ending the persecution of Christians should be the top priority of world leaders. However, since then, the position of Christians in countries where they are minorities has only deteriorated.
Winter has come
The most problematic for Christians is the region of the Maghreb and the Middle East, mired in revolutions and counter-revolutions. Previously, the almost unshakable, but later overthrown dictatorships were mostly secular in nature, they valued order above all else and put tough pressure on pro-Islamic forces, reasonably considering them as their main competitors in the struggle for power. You could say it all started with Iraq. Before Saddam Hussein’s removal by the international coalition, under the leadership of the United States, more than one and a half million Christians lived in the country. Now there are more than ten times fewer Christians in Iraq, a significant part of them emigrated, fleeing from the "epidemic of terrorist attacks" and the armed confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis, others fell victim to Islamic radicals.
Islamists under state pressure were also the main driving force of the revolution in Egypt. After the victory of the “rebellious Tahrir” and the resignation of Mubarak, pogroms began in the neighborhoods inhabited by Christians - the Copts. And although secular, liberal activists of the “Arab Spring” regularly organized actions of solidarity with the Copts, directly protecting them from the attack of the radicals, this did not help much. Subsequently, the Egyptian Christians and secular forces joined the counter-revolution of the Egyptian generals, who, on the one hand, partially restored the dictatorship, on the other - the number of attacks on Christians really decreased.
In Libya, where the "spring" turned into a full-scale war, there were relatively few Christians - 60 thousand, now only half of them remained (the vast majority have emigrated). Another thing - Syria, where Christians made up about 10% of the population (that is, more than two million people), and the war still continues. The killings of priests, the burning of churches, attacks on Christian neighborhoods, religious cleansing - for present-day Syria, in some regions of which jihadists rule, this, unfortunately, is routine. In the city of Maalyulya, militants broke into the old monastery of St. Equal-to-the-Apostolic Thecla and took 12 nuns hostage, including the prioress (their whereabouts are still unknown).
After the shelling of the Orthodox monastery, located north of Damascus, the Anglican priest Nadim Nassar voiced an appeal to the world, calling for a halt to the massacre of fellow believers. “Hundreds of thousands of Christians in Syria had to leave their homes. Many of them were killed. Some are missing, for example, two bishops from Aleppo. We don't know anything about them, ”he said. According to Nassar, the government of Bashar al-Assad only declares the protection of Christians, without actually undertaking anything, while the opposition completely “closes its eyes to the fact that al Qaeda and the Islamists are attacking mainly Christians”.
If the Syrian jihadists succeed, the situation for Christians will become catastrophic. Suffice it to recall how things are in particularly zealous Islamic countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example, it is forbidden to practice Christianity (as well as other religions other than Islam), the Bible can be sent to prison, and Muslims converted to Christianity are sentenced to death. And in Sudan in 2012 about half a million people were deprived of citizenship only on the basis of their Christian religion, most of them were squeezed out of the country, some were killed. However, in the case of Sudan, it is not just religious intolerance, but in the long-term bloody confrontation with Christian South Sudan, which sought security through the department. The forcible eviction of Christians was associated with the provision of independence to the separatists.
Black Africa, more precisely, those countries through which the "religious equator" passes, is another high-risk region. Many black peoples living next to the Arabs converted to Islam, whereas the more southern nations mostly profess Christianity or traditional cults inherited from the colonialists. Civil war in one form or another is a frequent phenomenon here, but even when it occurs between groups practicing different religions, the main factor for the massacre may still be ethnic origin, as already mentioned above.
In the CAR in 2012, an Islamic group seized power, and since then, chaos has reigned in the republic, with which - so far without much success - the military from France and the countries of the African Union are trying to cope. The main victims of the coup were Christians, who responded, in turn, with terror against Muslims. Now the militants of rival gangs control different regions of the country, carrying out killings on both religious and ethnic grounds. Moreover, in a number of cases, to call nominal Christians Christians do not turn the language. So, in early January, in the capital of the country - Bangui - the crowd literally tore one of the bus passengers, finding him a Muslim, after which the initiator of the execution ate the leg of his victim. Only after that the military decided to disperse the crowd of vigilantes.
In Nigeria, where the northern states are populated by Muslims and live according to Sharia law, the group “Boko Haram” received sad glory, the victims of which since 2009 have been about 2800 people, mostly Christians. But just as many Christians in Africa are actually pagans, one can speak of Boko Haram rather as a sect that fights for “traditional Nigerian values”, opposes any Western influence and seeks to cleanse non-Muslims and “wrong Muslims” »The northern states (with the Sharia law, according to militants, should apply to the southern, Christian territory of the country). A favorite grouping tactic is attacking churches, especially on holidays, when there are significantly more worshipers. In addition, attacks on residential areas and markets are practiced: those who cannot read the surah from the Quran are shot on the spot. While the government’s efforts to combat Boko Haram are in vain, even the emergency regime introduced in the states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, where the group is particularly active, does not help.
In general, the same tendency is observed in the states with the “religious equator”: Muslims living in the north squeeze Christians farther and farther to the south. In addition to the countries mentioned above, such a pattern is observed in Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali, where the French military are also trying to "settle" a civil war. Most often, attacks on Christians are in the nature of gangster raids and are accompanied by massive robbery. “The goal of all these Islamist movements in the Arab world and in Africa is to push back the frontiers of Christianity and push the frontiers of Islam forward. They have a whole strategy. Today, Christians have become scapegoats that symbolize hatred of the West. This is the new Christianophobia, ”Alexander del Val, a geopolitologist and teacher of international relations at the University of Metz, commented on the situation in an interview with the French edition of Atlantico.
The loudest murder of Christians by Islamic fanatics (except for the tragedy of the British soldier Lee Rigby, who had his head cut off in central London) in the past year was the seizure of hostages in a shopping center in Nairobi (the capital of Kenya), which resulted in the death of 67 people. The invaders - the Somalis from the Al-Shabaab group - immediately released all Muslims, and dealt with the remaining Christians in a truly savage way. The police report is like a horror film: severed heads and fingers, nose and tongues torn out by forceps, squeezed eyes, group rapes (of both women and men). “The attack on Westgate Mall should hit Kenya’s leaders who thoughtlessly invaded Somalia. It is also a retribution against Western countries that supported the Kenyan invasion and shed the blood of innocent Muslims in order to pave the way for their mineral mining companies, ”its leader Ahmed Godein explained the goals of the grouping. He is still free.
In Pakistan, radical Sunni groups are fighting against Christians (as well as Hindus and Shiites), and this struggle is purposeful. Despite the zealous-Islamic nature of the state, official Islamabad is trying to protect religious minorities, and given the difficult relations with India, especially Christians, of which there are about three million in the country. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. So, in September, an explosion was arranged near a Christian church in the city of Peshawar, 78 people died, more than a hundred were injured. Responsibility was assumed by the Jundul Hafsa group, whose representative declared: “Christians are enemies of Islam, and therefore they are our goal. We will continue our attacks on all non-Muslims living in Pakistani lands. ”
Often attacks on the "infidels" are associated with the robbery of villages - collecting tribute. An additional threat is that in certain regions of Pakistan, radical Islamic theologians have influence on local authorities. As a result, children begin to learn from textbooks containing direct calls for the murder of Christians - the implementation of "supreme prowess."
However, neighboring India shows that not only Islam is a threat to Christianity, it is already Hindu groups that are creating lawlessness. The principal difference is that this terror is not religious (such as Hinduism simply does not imply), but nationalistic or traditionalist. Christianity is persecuted as an alien culture introduced into India from the outside.
Now Christians in the country are 2,4%, but considering the population of 1,2 billion, this is a very significant figure, in the eastern states of Mizoram, Nagaland and Megalaya followers of Christ are generally in the majority. In fact, there are even more Christians (according to some estimates - up to 6%), but many prefer to be listed as Hindus. The reason - not so much fear of the radicals, as the origin. The Christians of India often come from the “untouchables” caste, in fact, they or their parents converted to Christianity precisely because the caste system is not recognized in it. At the same time, the government has been struggling for some time with the caste system and supporting the "untouchables" financially - with money and benefits, that is, it is not profitable for a Christian to sign up as a financial one.
The most Christian-unfriendly states are Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, but especially Orissa. As a result of the 2008 riots, 250 churches were destroyed, 120 Christians were killed, and about 50 thousands were evicted. The reason was the murder of the head of the World Hindu Council, Lakshmananda Sarasvati, who spoke very harshly about the followers of Jesus and fought against the adoption of Christianity by local residents. As a result, it was the Christians who were accused of the murder of Saraswati, for which the Maoists subsequently took responsibility. It is indicative that even after the recognition of the Maoists, the fervor of the Hindu radicals did not cool and the killing of Christians continued.
Christians also suffer from radical Buddhists, however paradoxical it may sound. Some Sinhalese living in Sri Lanka believe that Sri Lanka is exclusively for them, as a last resort, for Buddhists, although, according to Christian tradition, the Apostle Thomas preached in Sri Lanka. It rarely comes to killings (after all, Buddhists), but an attack on churches and beating of parishioners and priests with sticks takes place, and the monks lead the lynching.
It remains to add that according to the version of the international charitable organization Open Doors, North Korea is the most unfavorable country for Christians, which sounds somewhat paradoxical against the background described above. There is a reservation that the main source of information about what is happening in the DPRK is refugees. On the basis of their testimony, as well as the research of professional Koreans, it is believed that about seventy thousand people are imprisoned in labor camps on the basis of Christian convictions, that is, belonging to the “hostile stratum”. True or not, it is impossible to establish reliably. But Christianity in North Korea is indeed not honored as a source of the "pernicious influence of the West," the spread of the Bible is banned, and missionary work is strictly suppressed as part of the fight against espionage. During the reign of Kimov, the number of Catholics (according to official data) decreased many times - from tens of thousands to several hundred. One Catholic church functions, but without a priest, at least the Vatican knows nothing about this priest. But in 2006, the Trinity Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church was built, for which the priests - Theodore Kim and John Ra - were ordained personally by Cyril, while he was still the metropolitan. The number of parishioners is estimated at 50 – 60 people.