Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 04 August |
Saint of the Day: St. John Vianney
home iconNews
line break icon

Report: Christianity may disappear from Syria and Iraq—a call for international intervention  

© Mohammed ABED / AFP

John Newton-ACN - published on 10/23/19 - updated on 10/28/19

Aid to the Church in Need has released a new study on the persecution of Christians.

The Christian exodus from parts of the Middle East has reached alarming proportions. It can only be stopped if the international community acts now. That is the conclusion of a new report on Christian persecution published Oct. 23 by Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity.

The 2019 edition of “Persecuted and Forgotten?”, a biennial study of the persecution of Christians around the world, warns that Christianity is disappearing from towns and cities in the faith’s ancient homeland. Despite the defeat of ISIS, the impact of genocide has led to the hemorrhaging of great numbers of Christians from the region, says the report.

The report concludes: “Were there to be another ISIS-style assault on the faithful, it could result in the Church’s disappearance.”

There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before 2003, but by mid-2019 that figure had fallen to well below 150,000; by some estimates the number of Christians there may have fallen as low as 120,000—a decline of more than 90 percent within a single generation. In Syria, the size of the Christian population has fallen by two-thirds since the country’s civil war began in 2011, when Christians still numbered more than 2 million.

The report, which covers the period 2017-2019, notes that the international community has shown unprecedented concern about the persecution of the region’s Christians. But the report charges that “governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway.”

“Persecuted & Forgotten?” warns that the Church in the region could vanish if radical Islamists were to mount another attack on vulnerable communities—a threat highlighted by reports of jihadists escaping prison as a result of renewed violence in northeastern Syria.

The report concludes: “Were there to be another ISIS-style assault on the faithful, it could result in the Church’s disappearance.” However, says the report, “if security can be guaranteed,” there is every indication that Christianity could survive on Iraq’s Nineveh Plains and in Erbil, Kurdish Iraq.

The report finds that “an increasing unity of purpose between religio-nationalist groups and governments represents a growing—and largely unrecognized—threat to Christians and other minorities in India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar) and other core countries in South and East Asia,” where the persecution has worsened the most.

In 2017, 477 anti-Christian incidents were reported in India. More than 300 people died—and more than 500 were injured—in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 2019, when jihadists bombed three churches and three hotels.

In a number of African countries Christians are threatened by Islamists seeking to eliminate the

Church—either by use of force or by dishonest means, including bribing Christians to convert to Islam.

In Nigeria’s north and in the ‘Middle Belt’ regions, Islamist militants continued a reign of terror against Christians and Muslims alike—3,731 Christians were reportedly killed in 2018. In other parts of the African continent, the main threat to Christians came from the state—in a 12-month period, more than 70 churches were attacked in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains; with 32 of these churches burned down.

Surveying the past two years, “Persecuted & Forgotten” also records instances of Christian persecution in Central African Republic, China, Egypt, North Korea, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The full report can be found here.

This article was published by Aid to the Church in Need and is reprinted here with kind permission.

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastPersecution of Christians
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
2
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
3
CARLO ACUTIS
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
4
JEDZENIE
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
5
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
6
ANTENUCCI
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
7
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.