Sobering news for Christmas:
Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers by Muslims, according to a new report.
The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group, mostly from Islamic groups.
And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.
It warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.
The report, by the think tank Civitas, says:“It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree.
“A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”
It cites estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.
The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in countries where Islam is the dominant faith, the report says, quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.
“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” it says.