Christians Forced Out of Muslim-Dominated Countries: Persecution Worsening, Say Reports

Christians are under increased threat from Islamic extremists in countries where Christians represent the minority as governments continue to offer little protections against continued persecution.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently released a study of global religious persecution which detailed the mass exodus of Christians in countries where Islamists are in power or hold a majority among the population.

"The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it's increasing year by year. In our lifetime alone Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt," according to the USCIRF study.

Unfortunately, the reality is as bleak, as the study details many Christians being killed or forced to flee to save their lives.

The Iraqi Christian population in 2003 was around 1 million, but fast forward a decade and reports indicate that less than 400,000 Christians remain after years of anti-Christian campaigns within the country. Christians also fled the country after they were unable to receive protections from security officials against perpetrators of violence.

The same trend can be seen in Egypt, where more than 100,000 Coptic Christian Copts have left the country in the wake of the Arab Spring that began in 2010.

Most recently, St. Mark's Cathedral was attacked and several Copts killed after Islamic extremists attacked worshipers at the cathedral who were attending a funeral service.

Critics charged that during that incident security forces, under the leadership of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, were not providing security to innocent Copts and that those responsible for the attacks were not brought to justice.

And in the central African country of Mali after an Islamic coup in 2012, more than 200,000 Christians fled after fearing for their well-being. Several Christian advocacy groups have warned that the churches in the northern regions of Mali faces being eradicated given that rebel leaders have previously stated their intent to establish an independent Islamist state and rid the area of Christians.

"Many of these countries top the U.S. foreign policy agenda, and religion is a core component in their makeup. Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos," Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF's Chairwoman, said in a statement.

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