London-Königstein-Montreal, Wednesday, November 22, 2022 – According to a report unveiled on November 16 in Britain, of which an abridged version will be made available in Canada in both official languages next week, Jihadists and nationalists are at the root of increased persecution of Christians around the world.
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has released its Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22 report in many countries. In Canada, the abridged version will be available in PDF format starting at the end of November, on the Canadian ACN website: www.acn-canada.org.
“Red Wednesday, observed on November 16 across Canada, is still very relevant,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of ACN Canada. “What strikes me again this year is the impression that nothing is changing, and that it is in fact getting worse. The international community must take this human right, which is enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, seriously. Violence resulting from a lack of freedom, from persecution and discrimination because of religion is on the rise. What more will it take for governments to respond?”
The report, which includes information from ACN and other sources, provides first-hand testimonies, compilations of incidents, case studies, and analyses of the extent of persecution of Christians in various countries.
The report has been presented in the Houses of the UK Parliament with a keynote address by Bishop Jude Arogundade, whose Ondo diocese in Nigeria was targeted by armed men who killed more than 40 people at a packed Sunday service in June.
Amid growing concern about the increasing violence in parts of the country, Bishop Arogundade spoke ahead of the event, saying: “The world is silent as attacks on Churches, their personnel, and their institutions have become routine. How many corpses are required to get the world’s attention?”
Persecuted and Forgotten? found that in 75% of the 24 countries surveyed, oppression or persecution of Christians has increased.
Jihadism and religious nationalism
Africa saw a sharp rise in terrorist violence from non-state militants, with more than 7,600 Nigerian Christians reportedly murdered between January 2021 and June 2022—Jihadism being a key factor in most deaths.
In May 2022 a video was released showing 20 Nigerian Christians being executed by Islamist terror group Boko Haram/ISWAP.
In Asia, state authoritarianism led to worsening oppression, which Persecuted and Forgotten? found was at its worst in North Korea, where religious belief and practice are routinely and systematically repressed.
Furthermore, religious nationalism has triggered increasing violence against Christians in the region, with Hindutva and Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist groups active in India and Sri Lanka respectively. Authorities have arrested believers and stopped Church services.
India saw 710 incidents of anti-Christian violence between January 2021 and the start of June 2022, driven in part by political extremism. During a mass rally in Chhattisgarh in October 2021, members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) applauded as right-wing Hindu religious leader Swami Parmatmanand called for Christians to be killed.
The report found that in the Middle East, a migration crisis is threatening the survival of some of the world’s oldest Christian communities. In Syria, Christians plummeted from 10% of the population to less than 2%—falling from 1.5 million just before the war began to around 300,000 today.
While the exodus is slower in Iraq, a community that numbered around 300,000 before the 2014 invasion by Daesh (ISIS) had been halved by spring 2022.
Persecuted and Forgotten? also found that in countries as diverse as Egypt and Pakistan, Christian girls are routinely subject to systematic kidnappings and rapes.
In Canada, the abridged version of the report in PDF format will be available as of next week, in English followed by French.