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'Intolerance and persecution is set to get worse': charity highlights religious freedom concerns for 2022

by Marcus Jones
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Alamy

The Sahel, Nigeria and Afghanistan are areas of major concern when it comes to the persecution of Christians in 2022.

That's according to religious freedom charity Release International which has published its Persecution Trends report as we head into a new year.

It claims in that Islamic extremists are gaining ground, not only in Nigeria, but also in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. 

In places like Burkina Faso churches are being forced to close and meet in secret. Christians are also experiencing bombings, killings, kidnappings and school burnings.

Release International says pressure in the region is likely to continue in the coming year, particularly following the drawdown of French troops in the area.
 
Food shortages in two countries that are both major persecutors of Christians, Afghanistan and North Korea, are also likely to exacerbate tensions.

But, despite the brutal persecution of Christians, the church in North Korea is growing, according to Release International partner, Dr Eric Foley. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he found requests for Bibles increased dramatically, since the authorities were forced to reduce their house-to-house searches to avoid infection.
 
"Let's pray that not only the gospel continues to spread, but that the church beyond is encouraged and strengthened by the witness of North Korea's underground Christians," said Dr Foley.
 
In India, attacks against Christians are rising and more states are imposing anti-conversion laws. This comes as growing numbers of the Indian underclass, the Dalits, are turning to Christianity.

Responding to the report, Paul Robinson from Release International said: "In many nations, we see a rising tide of intolerance towards Christians, accompanied by a rise in violence.
 
"Islamist militants are becoming more aggressive in Africa, as they attempt to drive Christians from the land.
 
"Now the violent intolerance of these insurgents is being mirrored in India, where we see right-wing religious nationalists attempting to eliminate the Christian presence in parts of the country. 
 
"The intolerance and persecution is set to get worse with growing food and climate insecurity."
 

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