Persecution of Christians has risen worldwide for three years in a row. In Nigeria the killing of Christians increased by a shocking 62 percent.
The world has a disturbing way of moving past its most glaring and persistent crises, but Hussam cannot move on, because he and his family are stuck in a refugee camp.
Once a young professional with a promising career in one of Iraq’s largest cities, Hussam was forced to flee his home with his family. ISIS had heard he was a Christian and put a target on his back. Hussam’s family fled in the middle of the night, braving minefields to avoid detection, and reached the refugee camp just as darkness broke into morning.
Hussam and his family now occupy the corner of an overcrowded tent in a refugee camp in northern Iraq. Basic supplies they once considered ordinary are a scarcity now — every day is a fight for another sip of water, another bite of food. The weather — whether snow, rain or sun — offers no respite, either.
Most days, Hussam looks at his family — studies the faces of his young children — and wonders why the world has forgotten them. He questions why everyone has given up on Christians.
Religious persecution is the world’s greatest and most enduring crisis. It’s followed us through millennia, from civilization to civilization, and has worsened through time. The ISIS suicide bombings of two Egyptian churches on Sunday that killed 47 worshippers is just the most recent example of the deadly assault on people of faith. In fact, a report released this past January says 2016 was the “worst year yet” for Christians in the past quarter-century.
According to the report, persecution of Christians has risen worldwide for three years in a row. In Nigeria the killing of Christians increased by a shocking 62 percent, while in India, a country where Hindu nationalists have spread an anti-Christian sentiment, an average of 40 incidents of extreme violence are now reported each month.
In total, 215 million Christians live in countries where they are subject to hostilities ranging from social discrimination and harassment to physical violence, imprisonment and even death. Christians are now killed in more countries than ever before and are persecuted in more countries than any other religious group.