Merry Christmas! Here's where Christians are persecuted in the Muslim world

Published December 21st, 2015 - 23:53 GMT

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In July, Pope Francis called the persecution of Christians in the Middle East “a form of genocide.” The plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria has been well-documented in the media since ISIS seized a massive swath of both countries last year, but harassment and violence against Christians occurs all over the Muslim world. This Christmas, don't forget about these persecuted Christian groups. 

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Somalia: After North Korea, Somali Christians experience more harassment than anywhere else on the planet, according to Open Doors, a UK-based organization that documents Christian persecution around the world. Al Shabab has said it wants to rid the country of Christians, and has executed those who practice the faith.
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Image 1 of 10:  1 / 10Somalia: After North Korea, Somali Christians experience more harassment than anywhere else on the planet, according to Open Doors, a UK-based organization that documents Christian persecution around the world. Al Shabab has said it wants to rid the country of Christians, and has executed those who practice the faith.

Enlarge
 Iran: Though Christianity has been practiced in Iran almost as far back as the time of Christ, Iranian Christians--of which there are about 400,000--are today the subjects of harassment & imprisonment. In 2013, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison. His alleged crime? Helping organize Christian gatherings.
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Image 2 of 10:  2 / 10 Iran: Though Christianity has been practiced in Iran almost as far back as the time of Christ, Iranian Christians--of which there are about 400,000--are today the subjects of harassment & imprisonment. In 2013, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison. His alleged crime? Helping organize Christian gatherings.

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Sudan is one of the worst places to live as a Christian, according to Open Doors, the UK watchdog group. The country imposes sharia law on all citizens, including the 2 million or so Christians who live there.
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Image 3 of 10:  3 / 10Sudan is one of the worst places to live as a Christian, according to Open Doors, the UK watchdog group. The country imposes sharia law on all citizens, including the 2 million or so Christians who live there.

Enlarge
Although Christians in Sudan are permitted to practice their religion, they are often targeted for rough treatment by the government. In 2014, a 27-yr-old Christian woman was sentenced to death for “leaving the faith.” The court said that because she had a Muslim father, she was not permitted to practice Christianity.
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Image 4 of 10:  4 / 10Although Christians in Sudan are permitted to practice their religion, they are often targeted for rough treatment by the government. In 2014, a 27-yr-old Christian woman was sentenced to death for “leaving the faith.” The court said that because she had a Muslim father, she was not permitted to practice Christianity.

Enlarge
Although Kenya is a Christian majority country, Christians there have increasingly come under attack since 2014 as violence in Somalia spilled over the border. In April, 147 people, mostly Christians, were killed by Al Shabab at Kenya’s Garissa University. Many churches in Kenya have metal detectors at the door.
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Image 5 of 10:  5 / 10Although Kenya is a Christian majority country, Christians there have increasingly come under attack since 2014 as violence in Somalia spilled over the border. In April, 147 people, mostly Christians, were killed by Al Shabab at Kenya’s Garissa University. Many churches in Kenya have metal detectors at the door.

Enlarge
Nigeria: There are about 89 million Christians in Nigeria (pop: 174 M). Since Boko Haram seized power in the north, thousands of Christians have been slain or kidnapped, Open Doors says. Those who are allowed to live are discriminated against in the Muslim-majority north of the country.
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Image 6 of 10:  6 / 10Nigeria: There are about 89 million Christians in Nigeria (pop: 174 M). Since Boko Haram seized power in the north, thousands of Christians have been slain or kidnapped, Open Doors says. Those who are allowed to live are discriminated against in the Muslim-majority north of the country.

Enlarge
Libya: Since a NATO coalition took out Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has spiraled into chaos, and things have gotten worse for the country’s 35,000 Christians. In April, a Libyan ISIS affiliate executed 30 Ethiopian Christians. Two months before, Islamists in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, prompting international outcry.
Reduce

Image 7 of 10:  7 / 10Libya: Since a NATO coalition took out Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has spiraled into chaos, and things have gotten worse for the country’s 35,000 Christians. In April, a Libyan ISIS affiliate executed 30 Ethiopian Christians. Two months before, Islamists in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, prompting international outcry.

Enlarge
Syria: At one point, there were 2 million Christians living in Syria, but since the rebellion against Bashar Assad began in 2011, half a million have been displaced, according to The Wall Street Journal. Others have been publicly executed, or had their churches destroyed.
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Image 8 of 10:  8 / 10Syria: At one point, there were 2 million Christians living in Syria, but since the rebellion against Bashar Assad began in 2011, half a million have been displaced, according to The Wall Street Journal. Others have been publicly executed, or had their churches destroyed.

Enlarge
Iraq: Christians have lived in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains for thousands of years, and today there are about 300,000 Christians in the country. But last summer, when ISIS seized large swaths of territory there, Christians came under fire. ISIS offers Iraqi Christians 3 choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed.
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Image 9 of 10:  9 / 10Iraq: Christians have lived in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains for thousands of years, and today there are about 300,000 Christians in the country. But last summer, when ISIS seized large swaths of territory there, Christians came under fire. ISIS offers Iraqi Christians 3 choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed.

Enlarge
What happened in Mosul is an eerie sign of the fate that has befallen Christians in Iraq. The city was a center for Christian civilization for thousands of years, but in 2014, after ISIS took over, Chaldean Catholic Church Archbishop Bashar Warda said that for the first time in 1,600 years, no Sunday Mass was spoken in the city.
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Image 10 of 10:  10 / 10What happened in Mosul is an eerie sign of the fate that has befallen Christians in Iraq. The city was a center for Christian civilization for thousands of years, but in 2014, after ISIS took over, Chaldean Catholic Church Archbishop Bashar Warda said that for the first time in 1,600 years, no Sunday Mass was spoken in the city.

Enlarge

1

Somalia: After North Korea, Somali Christians experience more harassment than anywhere else on the planet, according to Open Doors, a UK-based organization that documents Christian persecution around the world. Al Shabab has said it wants to rid the country of Christians, and has executed those who practice the faith.

Image 1 of 10Somalia: After North Korea, Somali Christians experience more harassment than anywhere else on the planet, according to Open Doors, a UK-based organization that documents Christian persecution around the world. Al Shabab has said it wants to rid the country of Christians, and has executed those who practice the faith.

2

 Iran: Though Christianity has been practiced in Iran almost as far back as the time of Christ, Iranian Christians--of which there are about 400,000--are today the subjects of harassment & imprisonment. In 2013, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison. His alleged crime? Helping organize Christian gatherings.

Image 2 of 10 Iran: Though Christianity has been practiced in Iran almost as far back as the time of Christ, Iranian Christians--of which there are about 400,000--are today the subjects of harassment & imprisonment. In 2013, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison. His alleged crime? Helping organize Christian gatherings.

3

Sudan is one of the worst places to live as a Christian, according to Open Doors, the UK watchdog group. The country imposes sharia law on all citizens, including the 2 million or so Christians who live there.

Image 3 of 10Sudan is one of the worst places to live as a Christian, according to Open Doors, the UK watchdog group. The country imposes sharia law on all citizens, including the 2 million or so Christians who live there.

4

Although Christians in Sudan are permitted to practice their religion, they are often targeted for rough treatment by the government. In 2014, a 27-yr-old Christian woman was sentenced to death for “leaving the faith.” The court said that because she had a Muslim father, she was not permitted to practice Christianity.

Image 4 of 10Although Christians in Sudan are permitted to practice their religion, they are often targeted for rough treatment by the government. In 2014, a 27-yr-old Christian woman was sentenced to death for “leaving the faith.” The court said that because she had a Muslim father, she was not permitted to practice Christianity.

5

Although Kenya is a Christian majority country, Christians there have increasingly come under attack since 2014 as violence in Somalia spilled over the border. In April, 147 people, mostly Christians, were killed by Al Shabab at Kenya’s Garissa University. Many churches in Kenya have metal detectors at the door.

Image 5 of 10Although Kenya is a Christian majority country, Christians there have increasingly come under attack since 2014 as violence in Somalia spilled over the border. In April, 147 people, mostly Christians, were killed by Al Shabab at Kenya’s Garissa University. Many churches in Kenya have metal detectors at the door.

6

Nigeria: There are about 89 million Christians in Nigeria (pop: 174 M). Since Boko Haram seized power in the north, thousands of Christians have been slain or kidnapped, Open Doors says. Those who are allowed to live are discriminated against in the Muslim-majority north of the country.

Image 6 of 10Nigeria: There are about 89 million Christians in Nigeria (pop: 174 M). Since Boko Haram seized power in the north, thousands of Christians have been slain or kidnapped, Open Doors says. Those who are allowed to live are discriminated against in the Muslim-majority north of the country.

7

Libya: Since a NATO coalition took out Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has spiraled into chaos, and things have gotten worse for the country’s 35,000 Christians. In April, a Libyan ISIS affiliate executed 30 Ethiopian Christians. Two months before, Islamists in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, prompting international outcry.

Image 7 of 10Libya: Since a NATO coalition took out Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has spiraled into chaos, and things have gotten worse for the country’s 35,000 Christians. In April, a Libyan ISIS affiliate executed 30 Ethiopian Christians. Two months before, Islamists in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, prompting international outcry.

8

Syria: At one point, there were 2 million Christians living in Syria, but since the rebellion against Bashar Assad began in 2011, half a million have been displaced, according to The Wall Street Journal. Others have been publicly executed, or had their churches destroyed.

Image 8 of 10Syria: At one point, there were 2 million Christians living in Syria, but since the rebellion against Bashar Assad began in 2011, half a million have been displaced, according to The Wall Street Journal. Others have been publicly executed, or had their churches destroyed.

9

Iraq: Christians have lived in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains for thousands of years, and today there are about 300,000 Christians in the country. But last summer, when ISIS seized large swaths of territory there, Christians came under fire. ISIS offers Iraqi Christians 3 choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed.

Image 9 of 10Iraq: Christians have lived in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains for thousands of years, and today there are about 300,000 Christians in the country. But last summer, when ISIS seized large swaths of territory there, Christians came under fire. ISIS offers Iraqi Christians 3 choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed.

10

What happened in Mosul is an eerie sign of the fate that has befallen Christians in Iraq. The city was a center for Christian civilization for thousands of years, but in 2014, after ISIS took over, Chaldean Catholic Church Archbishop Bashar Warda said that for the first time in 1,600 years, no Sunday Mass was spoken in the city.

Image 10 of 10What happened in Mosul is an eerie sign of the fate that has befallen Christians in Iraq. The city was a center for Christian civilization for thousands of years, but in 2014, after ISIS took over, Chaldean Catholic Church Archbishop Bashar Warda said that for the first time in 1,600 years, no Sunday Mass was spoken in the city.

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