Christians refugees among the thousands of Middle Eastern migrants who have fled to Europe have discovered that a familiar burden has followed them: religious harassment.
Some Christian migrants have been subjected to discrimination and violence from Muslim migrants with extremist views and one Iranian convert to Christianity has been murdered.
This harassment has been observed in various locations across Europe, including the refugee camp of Grande-Synthe, in northern France, where Iranian converts have been specifically targeted by Iraqi refugees.
The situation has raised great concern amongst local christians, who are now supporting refugees by supplying them with food, clothing, and, in some cases, shelter.
It all started at the turn of the year, recalls Philippe Dugard, the Pastor of Église Evangélique du Littoral (EEDL), a church which has spearheaded the relief effort in Grande-Synthe.
“Between November and December, there was a group of Iranians who confessed their belonging to Christ, who started to attend our church. Some were Orthodox, while others said they were Christians but were not truly converted. But we got to know them, and we felt they had a real spiritual thirst,” he said.
“And then one evening [14th December], we were informed that two of them were stabbed and the whereabouts of a third one was unknown.
“We then said that, as Christians, we cannot leave them alone in that situation, and the victims themselves told us that they no longer wanted to stay in the camp, as they felt threatened.”
The incident marked the beginning of EEDL’s support for refugee victims of persecution.
For the next few days, the victims were put up in hotels, before they were moved to a church in Dunkirk, the closest city to the camp. Just one of the victims from the initial group remains, a 29-year-old who wished to remain anonymous.
“Generally the Kurdish mafia in the camp are against Christians,” this man said. “When we gave our money to them to help us to go to England, they didn’t help us and they just stole our money and did not give it back. Then they attacked us and called us kafir [infidels] and dirty. They came and cut me with a knife and they beat my friends.”
He said there are still some Christians in the camp, but that many are too scared to speak about their faith.
He added that a mosque has been created in the camp, and that the Call to Prayer resounds around the camp every day, but unlike the nearby Calais camp, there is no church.
- Pray for Christians refugees in Europe and the Middle East, many of whom face persecution in refugee camps and have to live outside the camps, therefore outside of any official channels of help or aid.
- Pray for European and Middle East Christians to show compassion and reach out to their fellow Christians, and for resources to help these desperate people.
- Pray for Muslim refugees to have a Spiritual hunger, to seek to know the Truth and to find that Truth in the Gospel and grace of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for countries around the world to have compassion for refugees, and to include Christian refugees in those who they welcome into their countries.
Psalm 9 vs 9: “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”