During this new year, FRC's Center for Religious Liberty will be covering top international religious freedom news each month -- exploring challenges that believers face abroad.
Here are the top news stories in international religious freedom this month.
Violence in Africa is Reaching a Crisis Point -- and Christians are in the Crosshairs
As one deadly assault after another fades out of sight, encroaching assailants are rushing forward at terrifying speed. Across the African continent, other Islamist groups like ISIS, al-Shabaab, and Ansar al-Sharia are strengthening their numbers, increasing their territory, and surging ahead into country after country.
In West Africa, Nigeria is the site of what has been described as a slow-motion genocide. Tens of thousands of Nigerian Christians have been massacred in recent years.
In East Africa, fighters linked to Islamic State attacked several villages in Mozambique, killing civilians, abducting women and children, and burning down homes. The gruesome description in November 2020 of innocent people "herded" to their death on a soccer field, where they were systematically decapitated and dismembered, was nightmarish. In Somalia, a Christian family was recently arrested. Local police accused the couple of abandoning Islam and evangelizing the people of Somaliland, though they have since been released.
As fatal violence becomes increasingly common, please continue to pray for stability and security in Africa and for the protection of Christians who often find themselves a target of terrorist attacks.
On his last full day in office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially designated China's brutal actions against Uyghur Muslims as "genocide" and "crimes against humanity." The designation puts pressure on the Biden administration to take a tough stand on China, especially regarding its human rights abuses.
See FRC's resources:
- Will Biden Stand up to China's Genocide?
- Biden must follow through on the State Department's China genocide declaration
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi's rule has brought both good news and bad news to the country's Coptic Christians. For the latest developments, see Lela Gilbert's op-ed in Providence.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated on January 27, marking the day that troops liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp where Nazi forces murdered more than 1.1 million people 76 years ago. This day serves as a somber reminder of the evil mankind is capable of and the necessity of guarding against antisemitism and defending the inherent dignity of all human beings. As Holocaust survivor Irving Roth notes about the Holocaust, "It begins with words."
See FRC's resources:
Remember the Persecuted
Religious liberty is the freedom to hold beliefs of one’s choice and to live according to those beliefs. While it was foundational to the formation of the United States of America, religious freedom is not merely an American right, but an inherent human right.
Yet the human race currently faces unprecedented religious persecution from governmental and social forces worldwide. In 2016, one or more religious groups were harassed in 187 countries around the world.
Over the last decade, Christians have been harassed in more countries, including the United States, than any other religious group. We do indeed face a worldwide crisis of religious liberty.
We must increase awareness of the expanding threat to religious freedom around the world and the persecution that many Christians are facing. As we grow awareness of this problem we must also increase engagement that will bring tangible hope and help to the persecuted.
For More Information
- "The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria" - FRC Issue Analysis
- "Religious Freedom in China" - FRC Issue Analysis
- "Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Anti-Conversion Laws" - FRC Publication
- "Pakistan's Religious Discrimination Harms Young Girls the Most" - FRC Op-Ed
- "West Africa: Praying for a Miracle" - FRC Op-Ed
- "China To Christians: We're Rewriting The Bible, And You'll Use It Or Else" - The Federalist
- "International Religious Freedom Day: It's Time to Applaud President Trump's Remarkable IRF Accomplishments" - Townhall.com
- "Nagorno-Karabakh: Where Armenian Christians Are Fighting for Their Lives" - FRC Blog
- "The Courage and Faith of Hong Kong Freedom Fighter Jimmy Lai" - FRC Blog