Christian refugees in Germany are facing religiously motivated abuse and violent attacks from Muslim refugees and security officials, according to a report by Christian charity Open Doors.
Of 231 refugees Open Doors interviewed between February and April, 204 said they had experienced “religiously motivated persecution” – whether through verbal insults, sexual or physical assault, or death threats.
Of those interviewed, 69 per cent were Iranians, while 13 per cent came from Afghanistan and 5 per cent from Syria. Eighty-six per cent were former Muslims who had converted to Christianity, most of them in their home country.
The interviews were conducted by Open Doors staff in Germany, which also issued written surveys to Christian refugees in their native language. The organization said the reports of harassment elicited by the surveys represent “just the tip of the iceberg”.
“What is alarming is the fact that Christian refugees and other religious minorities are increasingly experiencing the same kind of persecution and discrimination as in their home countries and are not receiving appropriate protection in Germany,” it said.
Other groups, such as the Berlin-based Konrad Adenauer Foundation, also have documented anti-Christian incidents occurring in German refugee centres. A March report by the foundation noted an increase in hostilities toward Christians.
Open Doors, however, said the foundation’s report is overly dismissive because it concluded that hard data about religion-driven hostility is difficult to obtain, and that much of the friction “most likely” is a product of the crowded, multi-cultural, anxious life in the refugee centres.
“Such theories only serve to trivialize and suppress the true reasons behind the attacks as the results of the Open Doors study indicate very clearly,” the Open Doors report said. “It shows that the documented incidents are religiously motivated attacks by nature and that they are occurring frequently and not just occasionally.”
Eighty per cent of the refugees interviewed by Open Doors said Christian and Muslim refugees should be placed in separate centres.
“There must be no more ‘integration experiments’ at the expense of Christian refugees,” the report said. “They see themselves as a small minority within a large majority of Muslims and quickly take note that most accommodation authorities not only fail to provide any help to them, they even show a complete lack of understanding of their situation.”
Open Doors added that there are other European countries “where alarming signals are starting to reach the public”, including Sweden, where it said “the migration board director has acknowledged problems in this area”.
Problems have also been reported in refugee camps in northern France, where last year an Iranian convert to Christianity was murdered.
Open Doors said there is a “crucial need for the protection of converts and of the right to be able to freely choose one’s faith (including changing it). This is especially true when religious minorities looking for help and protection turn to a country like Germany where the rights to freely practice one’s religion are constitutionally guaranteed”.
“The radical form of Islam, as practiced in the perpetrators’ countries of origin, must be prevented from destroying the right to religious freedom in Germany,” it added.