Persecution of Christians is commonplace throughout the world but almost entirely ignored by the media.
Christians suffer harassment, job discrimination, imprisonment, rape, torture, and assassination, all because of their faith.
In an effort to bring attention to the plight of persecuted Christians around the globe, Internation Christian Concern has started a “Hall of Shame” - an annual list of the world's worst persecutors of Christians.
In the period covered by this report (Dec. 2005 - Dec. 2006), Christians continued to experience severe persecution for their faith on an alarming scale.
One of the most disturbing trends was the rise in persecution associated with Islam.
In the past, communist governments such as those in China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba were the chief persecutors of Christians, and their record still isn’t good.
It’s estimated that 40,000 Christians are locked away in prison in North Korea alone.
But Islamic persecution of Christians tops even the communist threat.
There are several reasons that Islam has become the leading source of Christian persecution. For starters, persecution of other faiths is encoded into the Holy books of Islam, the Qur'an and Hadith.
According to mainstream Islamic doctrine, derived from the Qur'an and Hadith, “a cease-fire” can exist between Muslims and non-Muslims - but “a true state of peace” can only exist between Muslims. There is no room for a prolonged peace between Islam and the world.
Muslims are commanded to wage war against infidels - non-Muslims - until Islam is dominant in the world.
According to the Qur’an, there is an obligation to wage jihâd - holy war - until the whole world has either accepted the Islamic faith or submitted to the Islamic state.
Until that happens, the world is divided in two: the “House of Islam,” where Muslims rule and the law of Islam prevails - and the “House of War” that comprises the rest of the world. Between these two, there is, from the Islamic point of view, a moral, legal and religious obligation for a state of war, until “the triumph of Islam over unbelief.”
Some of the tremendous oil money that has poured into Saudi Arabia since the 1970s has been used to spread the extremist “Wahabbi brand” of Islam around the world via the funding of mosques, clerics, maddrassas (Islamic boarding schools), and by the funding of armed conflicts. Increasing numbers of Muslims around the world have become radicalized as a result.
The Muslim situation in the Palestinian territories, as well as in Iraq, has been framed by certain Muslim groups and media outlets to create a siege mentality, resulting in increased resentment and hatred of the West. Because most Muslims believe that the West is "Christian," indigenous Christians are often targeted when Muslims are outraged at something that the "Christian" West has done.
We are often asked how to stop or reduce persecution from Islam. We would say in the strongest terms that Islamic aggression, hatred, and intolerance must be confronted, named and shamed. Pope Benedict XVI did this earlier in the year and Muslims erupted around the world. The world's journalists seem to have been cowed by this phenomenon. We would ask them to cover the news of oppressed Christians and clearly point out the instigators.
Finally, we have no "ax to grind" with Islam. Islamic countries represent five of the Top 10 countries on this report but are by no means the sole source of persecution.
Persecution and discrimination are part of human nature. We will stay vigilant in monitoring all countries that persecute Christians.