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Arson Leaves Hundreds without Place of Worship

2/16/2016 Washington D.C., (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that in the early morning hours of February 15, the day Pope Francis arrived in the state of Chiapas, a minority Christian church located in Zincacantan, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, was set ablaze, leaving hundreds without a place of worship.  Although too early to definitively report on the identity of the perpetrators, the state government has been notified of the crime.

The arson caused thousands of dollars in damage, including the front door being completely destroyed, windows broken, and furniture, the pulpit, curtains, and all 200 chairs being burnt in the fire.

This arson is the latest in a number of instances of persecution in the state of Chiapas, a rural state of Mexico that has become a hotbed for the persecution of minorities.  However, it is also indicative of a trend of persecution throughout the country.   In June, ICC estimated that more than 70 open cases of religious persecution against minority Christian communities, each involving between 20-100 victims, existed in the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero. Since then, ICC has also reported persecution in the state of Jalisco as well.

Some in the United States government are also showing concern over the treatment of religious minorities in Mexico.   On July 15, Senator Marco Rubio questioned Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the current nominee for next US ambassador to Mexico, on how she would address this trend with the Mexican government.

Nate Lance, ICC’s Advocacy Manager, stated, “ICC is deeply disturbed to learn of another attack on religious minorities in Chiapas.  One would have hoped that the visit of the Pope would be the start of religious peace in the area.  With hundreds without a house of worship, and thousands of dollars in damage, ICC demands that the Mexican government intervene to protect religious minorities and their churches.”   

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