Christians are the victims of severe persecution around the world and are “increasingly a targeted minority”, an American academic has said.
Writing for US news site The Daily Beast, Brandon G. Withrow said that human rights organisations face an “uphill battle” when it comes to raising Western awareness of attacks against Christians.
Withrow, who teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay in Ohio, said international solutions are a long way off, but noted that human rights groups want to see “actions with teeth”.
He pointed to the increasing incidence of attacks against Christians in Pakistan.
On Easter Sunday this year, 70 people were killed in a bombing targeted at Christians in Lahore.
Last March, 14 people were killed and 70 injured in the same city, after suicide bombers targeted churches. In 2013, at least 80 people died in another attack on a church in Peshawar.
Withrow also pointed to reports by charity Open Doors which show that between November 2014 and October 2015, more than 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith – almost 3,000 more than the previous year.
He quoted the CEO of Open Doors USA, David Curry, who believes most Americans do not have an “accurate understanding of the real state of Christian persecution around the world”.
Curry said: “Right now few leaders are offering more than condolences after major attacks on Christians”.
“They need to go to the countries, meet with its leaders and people to find bipartisan ways to protect Christians and promote religious freedom to all”, he added.
Earlier this year, Open Doors UK & Ireland urged Westminster to do everything possible to stem the rapid rise of global persecution against Christians.
The appeal came after the release of the charity’s 2016 watch list of the world’s worst countries for persecuting Christians, which noted widespread systematic religious cleansing across Africa and the Middle East.
The worst country for persecution against Christians was found to be North Korea, where around 70,000 Christians are estimated to be imprisoned in labour camps.
The biggest rises in persecution have been seen in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Eritrea, and the number of refugees from Afghanistan and Eritrea has increased significantly.