Middle East

Map reflects the 30 most recent Persecution Reports. Click HERE for the Map Legend.



Members Press Obama To Raise Human Rights In Saudi Arabia

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Ahead of President Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia, 70 members of congress sent a letter to the President urging him to raise human rights and religious freedom issues with King Abdullah during his meeting. The letter received support from International Christian Concern and other NGOs supporting religious freedoms, as well as groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that address larger human rights abuses.

Rebels Reassure Christians After Capturing Key Syrian Border Town

Friday, March 28th, 2014

After fighting with forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rebel forces have gained control of the Syrian city of Kessab. More than 2,000 residents of the largely Christian city have fled, leaving behind a “ghost town.” Reports have emerged of rebels desecrating churches, while others show video of the churches intact.

Captive US Pastor Hospitalized in Iran Amid Calls for Release

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Pastor Saeed Abedini remains in custody in Iran, serving an eight year prison sentence for his religious beliefs. According to the most recent reports, Saeed is currently being held in a hospital where he has received some treatment for injuries sustained from beatings, but has not received a necessary surgery for internal bleeding. Numerous world leaders have advocated for his release and yet Iran seems determined to continue holding him.

Syria’s Islamist Rebels Force Christian Activist to Wear Veil

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

A personal story highlights how far the Syrian conflict has come from its beginnings as a push for more rights and freedoms from a dictatorial regime. Some Christians were among those originally pushing for greater freedoms, but now they see that movement has been replaced by extremist groups seeking to impose an Islamic state. “Leave this country, it’s not ours anymore,” was the conclusion of a Syrian Christian.

Aid Proposed To Stop Christian Persecution In The Middle East

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

America needs to do more to address the persecution of Christians, was the takeaway from a panel on the issue. The Center for American Progress organized the event that brought together a panel of researchers to address the issue, that in the words of Paul Marshall “is getting much worse.” The reality is that a wide-range of actors, including government and non-government organizations need to be active to support churches and address the issues that foster religious persecution.

Two Thousand Kessab Christians Find Safety in Latakia, Syria

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

More than 2,000 Christians have fled their homes in the Syrian city of Kessab. Extremist fighters, largely from the al-Nusra Front took the city, that until now had been relatively peaced. Many of the families who fled have been forced to stay in the church in the city of Latakia or attempt to find housing with relatives. Kessab is a largely Christian city and witnesses reported that the churches in the city were desecrated by the militants as they took control.

Congress: Obama Must Press Saudi Arabia on Human Rights

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

As President Obama is about to meet with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, 50+ members of Congress are calling for him to address human rights issues while he is there. Saudi Arabia, while a close ally of the United States, is one of the most restrictive governments in the world in preventing any form of Christian worship. This has serious implications when considering that millions of foreign workers, many who are Christian, live in Saudi Arabia and yet have no churches or places of worship. 

Time For Obama To Speak Out For Religious Freedom in Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Is promoting religious freedom abroad a priority in President Obama’s foreign policy? A few members of Congress certainly think it should be. On Thursday, the President will be getting a letter from more than 50 representatives urging him to publicly address human rights and religious freedom during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.

Reports Cite 80 Dead in Kessab, Syria; Churches Desecrated

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Latest reports out of Syria show rebels from the Al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front have captured a number of Christian villages on the Turkish border. The villages were home to more than 670 Armenian Christian families. Many of these were evacuated to other cities before the forces arrived, some who did not make it out in time were taken captive. During the assault at least three churches were desecrated, according to witnesses. For months Christians have feared about their fate if militant Islamic groups take control of more areas.

Christian Syrian Activist Speaks out After Being ‘Arrested’ by Islamist Militants for Not Wearing a Veil

Monday, March 24th, 2014

A Syrian Christian who has been a long-time opponent of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad was arrested by Islamists at a protest because she was not wearing a veil. The group said that they were in control of that portion of Aleppo and that hse should abide by their Islamic norms. Following the ordeal she spoke out saying, “There is no room for Christians in the revolution.” Unfortunately, the growing number of Islamists have made it clear they are fighting for an Islamic state, and not for greater rights and freedoms for all Syrians.

One in Four Christians Persecuted Worldwide

Friday, March 21st, 2014

About a quarter of the world's Christians face persecution today.

Ethnic Cleansing Could Lead to Mass Exodus of Middle East Christians

Friday, March 21st, 2014

As religious and political leaders look at the trends from recent days, it is hard not fear that violence against Christians may continue to drive large numbers of them to seek refuge outside of their homelands. The level of violence has many looking back some 1300 or 1400 years to find a historical equivalent. Yet, far too often, when world leaders do speak on the issue, they fail to ever accompany those words with actions.

UN Report Blasts Iran For Persecution Of Christians, Other Religious Minorities

Friday, March 21st, 2014

A new report presented at the United Nations has highlighted that Christian persecution, and wrongful abuse of other religious minorities is on the rise. Informal “house churches” and evangelical Christians have been labeled by the regime as “threats to national security,” the report highlighted. Highlighting the abuse are the 49 Christians imprisoned as a result of their faith, including American citizen Saeed Abedini.

A New Year for Iran’s Christians: Will Anything Change?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

As millions of Iranians celebrate the start of a New Year, International Christian Concern (ICC) continues to call attention to the flagrant persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iran. As the new Iranian president took office this past summer, his words promised a change in the respect of fundamental rights for Iranians. Unfortunately, those promises have not been met with action. Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini is still serving out an eight-year prison sentence. He is just one of 49 Christians who remain imprisoned in Iran as a result of their faith. If this past year is a sign of things to come, many others may join them in prison this year.

We Depend On the Christians of the Middle East

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Why does it really matter if Christians stay in the Middle East? Why don’t they just leave? These questions cut to the heart of what is happening politically across the region. The vast majority of those living in the Middle East want to establish a system of governance that is inclusive off all peoples, regardless of their faith or other markers. If religious extremists are able to drive Christians out and establish an Islamic state, it will not be long before that same ideology will be applied on all those who fail to hold the extremist’s interpretations.

My Iranian Spring! Nowruz – How Do Iranian Christians See The Dawn Of A New Year?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

As Iranian Christians are about to celebrate the Persian New Year, there is a feeling of despair as dozens of Christians remain in prison. Evangelical Churches and Christians are facing an intense crackdown, as bad as at any other time in the history of the Islamic Republic. While some names are known, unfortunately many Iranian Christians suffer persecution without ever being able to share their story.

Released Suspects in Malatya, Turkey Slayings Ordered to Wear Monitoring Devices

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Due to a recent change in the judicial system, the suspects in the brutal murder of three Christians in central Turkey are currently out of prison. The law now limits the amount of time that a suspect can be held without being convicted. The murders took place nearly seven years ago and the court case has been repeatedly delayed as it has been entangled with other corruption and conspiracy theories. The five are still being monitored and a decision is expected to be rendered on their case in the coming months.

US, Germany Raise Pastor Saeed’s Case by Name at UN Human Rights Council

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

As world leaders meet to discuss human rights issues around the world, the wrongful imprisonment of Christians for their faith is a key issue of concern. Officials specifically raised the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini who remains in an Iranian prison, serving a sentence of eight years for his faith activities. World leaders continue to call for the release of Saeed, an Iranian-born American citizen.

Former Lebanese PM Warns Middle East Religious Diversity Dying

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Rising religious extremism is driving out a “religious pluralism” that has allowed for Christians, Muslims, Jews, and a variety of other faiths to live together. At a recent conference highlight the issue, a former minister from Lebanon highlighted how this trend is threatening to tear apart the region. He called on international groups, such as the United States, to back up their words with actions that will help to preserve the minority communities of the Middle East.

Prison Authorities Seize Christian Prisoner’s Bible

Monday, March 17th, 2014

An Iranian pastor who is serving a prison sentence of six years had his cell raided and a Bible and other Christian books taken from him, Mohabat News reported. Benham Irani was taken into custody in 2010. Just recently he was sent to the hospital to receive treatment for the injuries he has suffered from repeated beatings in prison. Now the prison guards have confiscated books that he’d been given from the prison library.

Baghdad Postcard: The Perils Of Being Christian In Cradle Of Civilization

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Somewhere near a million Christians have left Iraq over the past decade. For those who have stayed behind they continue to risk danger from fighting that in some cases shows no discrimination, and at other times extremists who target Christians to make a point. For those who have stayed behind, it is largely a love of country that has kept them there, despite the dangers.

Iran’s Oppressed Christians

Friday, March 14th, 2014

What does it mean for an Iranian to convert from Shi’a Islam and embrace another faith, especially Christianity? It usually results in intense persecution. Even for those Christians who stay “underground” it is not unusual for them to end up in prison, serving out long sentences, if they return at all. Many Christians have since fled the country, making their way to neighboring countries or eventually to Europe or the United States. For those who don’t leave their fate in Iran is an uncertain one.

After Three Years, Who Is Standing #WithSyria?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

International Christian Concern (ICC) joins with millions around the world in calling for an end to the hostility that has torn apart the country of Syria over the past three years. The protests following the detention of 15 children for writing pro-democracy graffiti have descended into one of the most brutal conflicts in recent history. In the three years since the conflict began, militant Islamic jihadists have streamed into the country fighting not just against the brutality of Bashar al-Assad, but also to establish an Islamic state. The Christian community, in 2010 estimated as 10 percent of the population, and other ethnic or religious minorities are being explicitly targeted and killed or driven out of the country.

Catholicism Growing in Heart of Muslim World

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A surprising fact that many are not aware of is that the Arab peninsula is home to more than 2 million Catholics. At a time when the region is seeing an exodus of its Christian population, there are hundreds of thousands of Catholics coming to the region, largely as foreign workers. This is creating challenges regarding the treatment of minority faiths in the heartland of Islam. There have been some steps towards the opening of a church in Bahrain that would serve as the cathedral for Northern Arabia. Protecting the rights of foreign workers – both their personal and religious rights – is a topic that the countries of the Arab peninsula most seriously consider.

American Pastor Saeed Abedini Taken to Hospital, But Shackled and Forced to Return Untreated

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran for his Christian faith, has once again received bizarre treatment by the Iranian judicial system. Saeed has suffered from internal injuries as a result of beatings received during his detention. Just last week he was moved to a hospital and provided better treatment, though not the surgery he needs. This move took place just prior to a visit by the European Union’s High Representative Catherine Ashton. Following her departure, Saeed was shackled and told he would be returned to prison.

Finally, a Little Good News for Nuns and Christians in Syria

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

After having been held captive for nearly four months a group of Syrian nuns and a few other women were set free. They were part of a prisoner exchange for women who had been arrested by the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. The news of their release was welcomed even as the fate of other church leaders who have gone missing in Syria remains unknown.

Syrian Rebels Force Christians to Pay ‘Protection’ Tax

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Raqqa, Syria represents the most vivid picture of the dangers of Islamic jihadism for Christians. The city that has been controlled by the extremist group, ISIL, has issued a formal “protection agreement” showing the conditions that Christians must abide by and failure to follow the agreement may be met with death.

Kurdistan Region: A Last Resort for Christians

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Through more than a decade of violence, a majority of Iraqi Christians have fled their homeland. While many of them have gone to Europe or the United States, an estimated 26,000 families migrated to northern Iraq, the region governed by Kurdish groups. The hostility in this area has been significantly less than in other parts of the country, but mere tolerance is a far cry from what many leaders hope will emerge in Iraq, a place where Christians are able to freely practice their faith, as full citizens without fear.

We Christians Live in Fear in Syria

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

A Syrian church leader writes about the incredible struggle that the Syrian people are facing, and about the particular challenges for the Christian community in particular. In the land where Paul came to faith in Christ, there are Christians being executed for that same faith. Prior to this conflict the majority of Syrians lived together without hostility between neighbors on the basis of religious identity. Now extremism has gained a foothold in the culture. While Christians are facing grave danger, they “have a crucial role to play in restoring peace.”

Eight Christians Have Been Arrested In Shush, Iran

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Iranian police arrested eight Iranian Christians and continue to hold two of them under charges of “spreading Christianity.” Police raided a picnic where the men were meeting. They interrogated the men, holding them until 9:00 pm. They then released some of them, but had a warrant for the arrest of two of the men on charges related to their faith.

  • Kids

    Care for orphans and hurting children

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  • Families

    Support wives and children of imprisoned or martyed pastors

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  • Pastors

    Spread the gospel by supporting underground pastors

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  • Women

    Save women from abduction and sexual exploitation

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  • Communities

    Help rebuild communities devastated by persecution

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Other Projects

other projects

ICC is constantly monitoring the state of Christian persecution in countries around the world and looking for ways that we can act as bridge between our supporters and the persecuted church. Beyond the projects you see above, we are working in many other areas to provide practical assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ. View our other projects page to understand more of our work and keep up to date on our current projects.