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Open Doors USA to Host Panel Addressing Christian Persecution

In response to the persecution faced by Christians around the world, Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of human rights watchdog Open Doors USA, will join a panel discussion in May to address the issues faced by Christians in religiously intolerant countries, as well as seek possible solutions.

Members of the panel, which will be held at the National Press Club on May 3 in Washington, D.C., include Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, director of Interfaith Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

"The Christians in the Middle East have become the new Jews of our times. We call on all people of faith, and all Americans, to speak up for the embattled Christians in the Middle East and Africa, and against the disturbing pattern of violence against other faiths and places of worship," Alderstein said in a press release issued by Open Doors USA.

Open Doors USA, a human rights watchdog based in Orange County, Calif., issues an annual "World Watch List," which rates countries based on the level of religious persecution it inflicts on its Christian residents.

The 2012 World Watch List, issued in January, identifies North Korea, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran, the Maldives, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan as being the greatest persecutors of Christians.

Similarly, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued its "Countries of Particular Concern" list in 2012, naming Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan as countries with a particularly high disregard for the human rights of Christians.

"We cannot idly stand by while there are major human rights violations in places such as Egypt and Nigeria," Moeller stated in the press release.

"Already thousands have fled Islamic terrorism in those countries. We need to speak out now with a renewed urgency. We must fight for freedom of religion for all imperiled faith groups," he added.

Africa and the Middle East have seen an escalation of human rights violations in the past year. Iranian Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has remained imprisoned in Iran since Oct. 2009, when he was arrested and sentenced to execution for apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

On Oct. 9, 2011, 26 Coptic Christians were killed in Egypt in a tragedy dubbed the "Maspero Massacre." Hundreds of Christians had gathered that day to protest the burning of a Coptic church in Southern Aswan that occurred on Sept. 30.

The peaceful protesters clashed with military personnel, resulting in the death of 26 Copts. Ensuing clashes reportedly saw Islamic extremists join the attacks against the Christians, and even saw a military vehicle driven directly into crowds of protesters.

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram targeted multiple churches in Nigeria on Christmas Day 2011 with bomb attacks, resulting in the death of at least 35 people. The Islamist terror groups has carried out numerous attacks since against the country's Christians.

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