The situation of Christian refugees in German shelters is “unbearable” according to an updated report released in October and co-authored by Open Doors Germany. The report documents 743 cases of discrimination, death threats, and physical assaults against Christians by Muslim refugees between February and May of this year and claims the findings are only “the tip of the iceberg.”
The study also highlights the challenges of reporting about religiously motivated attacks. European politicians have cultivated a climate with two extremes: Much of the political and media establishment ignores or whitewashes attacks carried out by Muslim refugees under the guise of political correctness, while the far-right wants to exploit the statistics for its own political gain.
Open Doors said those risks should not lead to silence: “The human right of religious freedom and protection of victims in a country like Germany—that is a constant admonisher of human rights abuses on an international scale—should not be sacrificed for political objectives or the interests of individual groups.”
Germany has opened its doors to more than 1 million refugees since 2015. Most live in close quarters among a predominantly Muslim population. Government-employed Muslim security personnel—often hired for their language skills and migrant background—were responsible for close to one-third of the allegations.
The initial report, published in May, led to an increased awareness of the problem but few solutions. The second report added 512 additional documented cases of religious persecution against Christian refugees, bringing the totals to 314 death threats, 416 cases of violent assault, and 44 cases of sexual assault.
Only 17 percent of the victims said they had filed a police report. Those who stayed silent said they feared further persecution or attacks on their family in Germany or in their home country. The heightened sense of shame in Middle Eastern culture likely prevented many female victims of sexual assault from reporting the incidents.
The report listed examples of the dangers Christians face, including a Syrian woman who testified she was attacked with a knife, called “a disgusting pork eating infidel,” and told she would be stabbed to death if she entered the kitchen again.
An additional Open Doors survey published Oct. 24 focused solely on a refugee center in Rotenburg, Germany, where Christian refugees returning from church in July were greeted with a notice calling on Muslims to “behead the infidels.” The Christians relocated to a nearby church. One interviewee said, “The same group of Muslims from different countries walks through the quarters and forms a Sharia council, consulting on what they should do with us and according to which laws they are planning to sentence us. The council consists of sheiks and mullahs.”
Open Doors concluded that while some moderate Muslims have defended Christian refugees, the scope of the problem is vast and appears directly correlated to religious persecution in the home countries of the Muslims refugees—primarily Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. All three countries are on the Open Doors list of the top 10 countries where Christians are experiencing the most persecution.
Some information gathered confirmed what missionaries and churches in Germany have reported: There is a renewed movement of Muslims professing faith in Christ. More than half of the victims said they were Christian converts, and 29 percent of those converts said they came to faith since arriving in Germany.
The report has rattled some politicians in a country that has attempted to maintain a positive approach to accepting migrants. “Those who terrorize Christians or atheists in the refugee shelters should have no right to apply for asylum,” German Integration Commissioner Martin Neumeyer said at a press conference after the release of the Open Doors study.
But other politicians responded by downplaying the numbers, claiming there are no religiously motivated attacks taking place or merely restating the expectation that refugees must learn to live peacefully together.
The vast majority of the victims listed “separate housing accommodations” for Christians as their top solution to the problem, but there is no sign of significant change on the horizon. “There must be no more ‘integration experiments’ at the expense of Christian refugees and other religious minorities,” the report concluded.
— by Jill Nelson