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On International Migrants Day, remember those fleeing persecution

Summary

  • Christians face harassment in two-thirds of all countries
  • International community should do more to protect the persecuted

VIENNA (18 December 2018) – Today, International Migrants Day is celebrated all over the world. While some migrate for economic or personal reasons, many are forced to flee due to religious persecution. Christians are recognized as the most persecuted religious group on the planet and are often forced to leave everything behind when fleeing persecution. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, there were incidents of harassment of Christians in more than two-thirds of all countries.

“On International Migrants Day, we should remember those who are forced to leave their countries in search of a better, safer life. Unfortunately, Christians from all over the world have been forced into giving up their homes as their fundamental right to freedom of religion is threatened. They suffer from legal persecution, imprisonment, violence, and even death,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, a legal advocacy organization protecting fundamental freedoms.

Christians seeking asylum

Christians fear persecution mainly in regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and East Asia. For some, life has become impossible in their home countries as they face torture, imprisonment, or even death due to their religious beliefs. The case of A.A. v. Switzerland provides a good example of these dangers and of international institutions failing to protect the persecuted. In 2018 the European Court of Human Rights heard this case of an Afghan Christian who had been denied asylum in Switzerland and faced deportation.

In Afghanistan, he would have faced severe social and formal persecution, ranging from lengthy imprisonment to death. Though religious freedom is recognized in the Afghan constitution, it also states that Islam is the state religion and prohibits any behaviour contrary to Islamic beliefs. As a result, Christians risk being stripped of their rights after conversion.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Those fleeing their home countries because of religious persecution deserve protection and support. Freedom of religion is recognized in international law as a fundamental human right and should be treated as such,” said Coleman.

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