OTTAWA – The next year could bring record levels of religious persecution around the world, say international experts – especially for Christians.
“I think in 2014, unless there’s a drastic change in the current trend, we’re going to continue to see things get worse,” said Isaac Six, advocacy officer for International Christian Concern, a Washington D.C.-based, non-denominational watchdog group that monitors the human rights of Christians.
Six says the spread of radical Islam increases religious persecution.
“We have absolutely seen a rise (in persecution), especially over the last decade, in countries where radical Islam is growing,” he said. “There is a direct connection – almost (a) proportional connection – to the persecution of religious minorities, (which) of course includes Christians. It also includes other Muslim minorities and other faiths.”
Paul Estabrooks, with Open Doors Canada, says he’s also seen the effects of Islamism.
“In 2013, things have gotten much worse in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, in Somalia,” said Estabrooks. “It’s a very significant challenge for Christians in those countries. We don’t see much hope for change in 2014.”
Their comments come on the heels of a major study by Pew Research that found hostility toward religion reached a six-year high around the world in 2012, noting that the “sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa” as a result of the so-called Arab Spring.