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REX/Rana Sajid Hussain
World News

Persecution of Christians will rise in 2017, warns charity

by Aaron James

Release International says it has particular concerns for the Islamic world, where it believes Christians will face further victimisation from both governments and Islamist militants.

In Iraq and Syria, both important countries in early Christianity, it's thought up to half of Christians have now been forced to leave their congregations because of Islamic State jihadists and other groups.

The charity is also raising concern about India and China. The former has seen increasing Hindu extremism where Christians have been murdered and raped and their churches destroyed.

In China, Christianity is banned outside of state-controlled churches and the government has torn down thousands of church crosses, citing safety safety concerns. Lawyers defending Christians have also been imprisoned.


Release International also highlights Iran, Nigeria and Pakistan as places of particular concern in its annual Persecution Trends report.

Andrew Boyd, from the charity, explained the Indian situation to Premier in more detail: "There's a group in India called the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India... they recorded in the first half of 2016 alone 134 attacks on Christians or churches. That number is close to the total combined number for 2014 and 2015 alone and the context of this has been a rise in militant Hinduism.

"It's a thinking which says that to be an Indian is to be Hindu and nothing else can be tolerated, that is leading to... a fairly dramatic increase in the number of attacks against Christians happening there.

He added: "It's very easy to dismiss these things as happening to people you don't know of in countries you've never visited... but Hebrews 13:3, says remember those who're in prison or who're suffering as though you yourself were there with them."

Listen to Premier's Dan Golding speaking to Andrew Boyd:

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