ICC Note: A startling realization was made with the release of the State Department’s 2013 Report on Religious Freedom: Christians throughout the Middle East are completely disappearing. Secretary of State John Kerry describes the Christian population as a “shadow of its former self”, speaking to the massive droves of Christian emigration out of countries throughout the region. Countries like Syria and Iraq have seen nearly all of their Christian population flee the conflict that has waged over the past 3+ years. It is estimated that millions of people were forced from their homes around the world due to their religious beliefs. This report confirms the deep seeded persecution Christians throughout the Middle East are facing, and yet the muted response from the Western World.
07/30/14 Middle East (Fox News) – The State Department issued a dire report Monday on the state of religious freedom around the world, with an alarming warning that the Christian presence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East is becoming a “shadow of its former self.”
The analysis was included as part of a comprehensive report on religious freedom around the world in 2013. The report cited a flood of examples of governments and militant groups cracking down on religious minorities, everywhere from Pakistan to Egypt to China. The victims included Christians, but also Hindus, Muslims and others.
The report offered a pointed warning about religious violence in the three-year-old civil war in Syria.
“After three years of civil war, hundreds of thousands fled the country desperate to escape the ongoing violence perpetrated by the government and extremist groups alike,” the report said. It said that in Homs, the Christian population has plummeted from 160,000 before the conflict to “as few as 1,000.”
The assessment, which the department releases annually, said millions of people were forced from their homes because of their religious beliefs in 2013.
Further, it said in conflict zones, mass displacement has become the “pernicious norm.”
The report also highlighted more than one million people being displaced in the Central African Republic during 2013, amid an upsurge in Christian-Muslim violence.
Christians aren’t the only minorities facing persecution.
In Southeast Asia, anti-Muslim violence spread from Burma’s volatile west to central Meikhtila, with up to 100 deaths and 12,000 displaced.
According to the report, Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia face “discrimination and prejudice.”
And Shia Muslims, as well as Christians, face violence in Egypt.
“In Iran, officials threatened, detained and harassed members of almost all non-Shia religious groups,” the report said.
Secretary of State John Kerry called the displacement of families and devastation of communities from sectarian violence a troubling trend in the world. Kerry further cited the “savagery and incredible brutality” by the Al Qaeda-inspired militant group active in Iraq and Syria, known as the Islamic State, saying it had slaughtered Shiite Muslims and forcibly converted Christians under threat of death.