Persecution watchdog group Open Doors has found that at least 743 Christian refugees living in camps in Germany were attacked by Muslim refugees in 2016, pointing to big failures on the part of German authorities when it comes to understanding the role of religion in the lives of refugees.
“The documented cases confirm that the situation of Christian refugees in German refugee shelters is still unbearable. As a minority they are discriminated against, beaten up by and receive death threats from Muslim refugees and partly by the Muslim staff (securities, interpreters, volunteers) on grounds of their religion,” found a major survey published by Open Doors Germany earlier in October, representing a number of organizations, such as Persecuted Christians and the Needy, European Mission Society Fellowship, and the Central Council of Oriental Christians in Germany.
“Taking these new cases into consideration there are now 743 Christian refugees who have reported religiously motivated attacks. With more staff at hand, a significantly higher number of cases could have been included in the survey,” it added.
The report noted that the latest numbers of persecuted refugees is most likely only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to religiously motivated attacks on Christians and Yazidis, estimating that there are high numbers of unreported cases as well.
The survey further reported that many of the refugees escaped from horrifying ordeals in Syria and the surrounding region, fleeing terror groups and civil war that have created a great humanitarian crisis, but are now also facing traumatizing conditions at German refugee camps, where they had hoped to find safety and security, but instead found injustice.
“We believe that the trivialization, concealment or misuse of this injustice, be it for political or other motives, will give encouragement to the perpetrators and increase the suffering of the victims,” the group stated.
“As a Christian charity, Open Doors is not against Muslims, as CEO Markus Rode has already made clear in a comprehensive statement in January 2015. It is a constitutive element of Christian faith that Muslims are loved by God and are to be met with love and compassion,” it added.
“At the same time it has to be stated that Islam, which is the majority religion in most of the refugees’ home countries, is responsible for the massive violation of the human right to freedom of religion. This is for example the case when Muslims threaten to kill converts while invoking the Quran as a basis for their action.”
There have been a number of news reports of Christians facing attacks by Muslims at German camps, such as a case from October 2015 where a convert to Christianity was reportedly beaten unconscious with a baton by Muslim refugees at a camp in Hamburg-Eidelstedt.
The Daily Express shared at the time that the unnamed 24-year-old Iranian victim was saved by more than a dozen onlookers who pulled the attacker off of him.
In its conclusions, the NGOs called for an end to “integration experiments” at the expense of religious minorities in German asylum and reception centers.
Open Doors urged German authorities to consider implementing several different measures aimed at protecting religious minorities, such as merging groups in such a way that the proportion of Christians roughly corresponds to that of the Muslims in the shared accommodations, and increasing the percentage of non-Muslim security staff.
The full report can be read on the Open Doors Germany website.
Christian refugees faced death threats, sexual assault and violent attacks at the hands of the Muslim-majority cohabitants in the camps. More than half of those affected said the persecution they had received was violent and 44 reported sexual attacks against them.
An overwhelming majority, 83 per cent, said the attacks had happened “several times”.