Catching Our Eye
More UK Muslim refugees convert to Christianity
A church in the UK with a growing congregation of Muslim refugees seeking conversion to Christianity is a "microcosm of what is happening across churches in Europe" says The Guardian.
Muslim refugees across western Europe are “converting in ever greater numbers and for a complex array of reasons” – because of persecution back home, they hope it might help asylum claims, but also because many just seek community and spiritual relief after fleeing conflict. Some go to church for food and shelter after being turned away by mosques.
Rev Sally Smith of St Mark’s Anglican church in Stoke, a city in the UK’s Midlands, says that it is possible that people can swap one set of religious beliefs for another. “With the mass movement from across the world we have got people of faith coming into a secular society [in the UK] and faith really matters to them,” she says. “And they are not too bothered …how that faith is expressed.”
Mohammad Eghtedarian, who became a Christian after fleeing Iran, and is now ordained as a minister in the Church of England said he doesn’t judge a Muslim’s motives for converting to Christianity and attending church. “The only thing I can do,” he says, “is see if people are still there a year later – and often they are.”
Christian refugees in Europe still suffering
Public Radio International, one of the US’s major producers and distributors of public radio programming, has interviewed Christians in German refugee centres - fleeing extremist violence in Iraq and Syria – who’ve reported intimidation from other refugees.
Their programme built on research by Christian charity, Open Doors Germany, which interviewed 200 Christian migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan earlier this year. It found that 88 per cent reported being targeted by other migrants because of their religion. Most faced insults and physical attacks and some even death threats.
One Christian refugee, Tarek Bakhous, told PRI he was the only Christian put in a house of nine devout Muslims; they then told him he should leave because he didn't share their views on drinking alcohol.
Another, Wassim Awad, also placed in a mostly Muslim house, overheard some of his housemates boasting that they weren't fleeing persecution, but were in Europe to spread political Islam. When he told the police what he'd overheard he was told "It's Germany. They have a right to free speech. There's nothing we can do".
Christians living in the migrant camps of northern France have reported similar harassment and violence from Muslims with extremist views who were also living in the camp.
Attack badly damages church in northeast Syria
An Assyrian Orthodox church was attacked Monday in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, resulting in extensive damage to its interior, local sources said.
"Anonymous gunmen stormed the St. Charnel Church for Assyrian Orthodox in the Watwatiyah district of Qamishli in the midnight on Monday, and destroyed its contents," a spokesman for the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights told ARA News.
It's not the first time Qamishli has been subject to a militant attack. Islamic State claimed responsibility for three attacks on the city last December that killed more than a dozen people.
The Assyrian Monitor added the unknown attackers used Molotov cocktails, and that icons and other contents were destroyed.