Current response to persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Question

What recent evidence exists on the scale and current response to persecution of Christians in the Middle East (including any information of the problems being faced and from which solutions could be worked upon)?

Summary

In 2016, various political bodies, including the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and UK Parliament, declared that the atrocities of the militant group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), against Christians, Yazidis, Shi’a Muslims and other religious minorities in areas under its control amount to genocide (Shea, 2016; Kraft and Manar, 2016; Ochab, 2016; USCIRF, 2016).  While ISIS has received much attention in recent years, it is not the only persecutor of Christians in the region. This report explores various forms of persecution and discrimination that Christians experience in the Middle East. Much of the literature focuses on Egypt, Iraq and Syria, with some discussion of the situation in Iran and Saudi Arabia. This report reflects this country focus. There is very little discussion in the literature about current responses, apart from criticisms that responses have been absent and that Christian communities have not received adequate attention. Some argue, however, that Christian communities should not be singled out and that highlighting their plight over that of other persecuted minorities could exacerbate sectarian divisions in the region.

Suggested citation

Haider, H. (2017). The persecution of Christians in the Middle East. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.