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HEART newspaper: Heart Publications | April 25, 2019

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Greece: Christian refugees “in fear of their lives”

Greece: Christian refugees “in fear of their lives”

Ex-Muslims have been assaulted and threatened in migrant camps

Muslim converts to Christianity are being threatened and cut with knives in Greece’s migrant camps, a recent report from the International Christian Consulate (ICC) has revealed.

ns in camps experience regular persecution including physical beatings, sexual assault, knife attacks, death threats, marginalisation and destruction of property and tents.1

“The same ideologies that fuelled the atrocities against Christians in their homelands have migrated to Europe’s refugee camps,” ICC’s founder, Yochana Darling, told HEART.

An English class for Christian migrants provided by the ICC

“Most of the Christians who had converted to Christianity from Islam live in daily fear for their lives, being forced to live covertly among hostile members of the community who consider apostasy worthy of death.”

Zahrah, a migrant from Syria, said: “If we wear a cross, people attack us. We are
attacked in the food lines and sent to the back because they say the food is not for Christians.”

“They tore our Bible and took our stuff. They tried to destroy everything,” said Fatimeh from Syria.

Ali, also from Syria, asked: “In our country we weren’t safe. We ran away to come to a safe place. But it’s not safe here … Why should we sleep and be afraid? Why can’t we go out at night from our room?”

An anonymous man from Iraq said: “We had a worship song playing and the Muslim people came and beat us. They broke our music player. They destroyed all my documents and things.”

“Because I said I’m a Christian and I love Jesus, they attack me. They say I am Kaffir, I sold my religion and Islam says they have to kill me,” said Abdo from Iraq.

Inside the ICC centre, where Christian refugees receive medical care and help with integration

Currently, 65,000 migrants and asylum seekers reside in Greece, including 42,000 new arrivals in 2018. Europe itself has received over 104,000.2

The ICC, based in Athens, remains the only organisation in Greece that specifically focuses on providing support and sanctuary for Christian refugees. Christians and other religious minorities represent just 2 per cent of the migrant population.

Yochana Darling says that Christians “fall through the gaps” when trying to access humanitarian aid: “Europeans struggle to understand how Christian refugees can be a religious minority in Europe… Europe’s refugee camps have become microcosms of the Middle East, with day centres equally unsafe, so Christians cannot easily access support or protection.”

Since 2016, the International Christian Consulate has established ten safe houses providing sanctuary for more than 160 Christian refugees. The Consulate’s House of Faith day centre provides psychosocial and medical care, language classes, integration support, prayer ministry and discipleship, receiving over 600 visits a month.

With thanks to the International Christian Consulate

1 http://www.internationalchristianconsulate.com/lesvos-report
2 https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/67047