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Christian Persecution in the Middle East Continues

  • By Alice Seeley

  • Published On June 6, 2020


The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is near genocide levels. The Christians of the Middle East are no strangers to persecution, but it has worsened significantly in the past 20 years and has led to a significant exile of Christian believers from this area. In Syria, the Christian population has dropped from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 today; and in Iraq, the Christian population has dropped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today.  A century ago Christians comprised 20 percent of the population in the Middle East, but since then the population has fallen to less than 4 percent.   Christianity is at risk of disappearing in the Middle East.

Civil wars in Syria and Iraq have caused increased persecution against the Christian population. The most extreme form of persecution, obviously, is martyrdom.  Other forms of persecution include violent threats, harassment, confiscation, and attacks on churches and properties owned by Christians, imprisonment, and legal discrimination.  Some Christians are given the option of conversion or death.  If they’re lucky, they might simply be heavily taxed for being non-Muslim.  In addition, many Christians do not attend church out of fear of attacks, such as bombings. Christian leaders in the Middle East have been subject to arrests, kidnappings, and killings.

Christians face specific challenges in displacement. Many avoid entering refugee camps out of fear of targeted attacks or because they feel safer in a Christian community.  Instead, they live in private homes or seek asylum in religious buildings.  Not living in refugee camps restricts their access to assistance and services.

Charities like the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East can reach these refugees by providing assistance to churches, UN camps, and non-official camps, giving humanitarian assistance and hope to Christians in the Middle East. The foundation also works closely with St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad to help those in need. In addition, American FRRME opened the doors to its first Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan – providing a place of refuge and a community center for believers near Amman.

American FRRME is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that promotes reconciliation, provides relief efforts, advances human rights, and seeks an end to sectarian violence in the Middle East.

To make a donation to American FRRME, please visit

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