By BosNewsLife News Center
BERLIN/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)-- Christians fleeing war and persecution face violence and death threats because of their faith in several refugee camps across Europe, BosNewsLife established.
In Germany, religiously motivated attacks against Christian migrants and other minorities have been at a refugee center in the central German town of Rotenburg an der Fulda.
"We, the Iranian refugees based in the city of Rotenburg, have fled from the Islamic Republic of Iran because we have been accused of being Christians and, therefore, have repeatedly been threatened by torture, imprisonment and the death penalty," Christian refugees said in a published letter.
"Here, where we have been accommodated presently, we are exposed to the same kinds of threats as before, this time at the hand of Afghan Muslims, and we fear for our lives," they wrote.
"The Afghan refugees...call us Iranian Christians 'apostates' and 'infidels' because of our decision to leave Islam and consider the shedding of our blood as legitimate (or even necessary)."
KURDISH CHURCH LEADER
Separately, a Kurdish church leader smuggled to Britain said he received death threats – for having left Islam for Christianity – while living in makeshift camps in northern France.
The church leader, who did not wish to be identified, spent nine months living in camps outside the French cities of Calais and Dunkirk. He told World Watch Monitor, the news agency of Christian advocacy group Open Doors, that Kurdish Muslims in both camps antagonised him.
“In Calais, the smugglers [saw] my cross [round my neck], and said: ‘You are Kurdish and you are a Christian? Shame on you,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘Why? I’m in Europe, I’m free, I’m in a free country.’ They said, ‘No, you are not free, you are in the Jungle. The Jungle has Kurdish rule here – leave this camp.’ The smugglers were from inside the camp, and were Kurdish. They said to me, ‘We will tell the Algerians and Moroccans to kill you.’”
The church leader, who taught art in his home in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as helping to lead a church there, said he received further threats in the camp outside Dunkirk. “They [set] fire [to] my tent,” he added. The Christian moved from what was known as the “Jungle” camp in Calais to the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk after one of the people-smugglers allegedly told him, “You’re a Kurdish pastor? I’ve heard about you.”
“He was really dangerous, like a gangster. I was really scared,” the Kurdish Christian stressed. "The smugglers saw the cross round my neck saying: 'You are Kurdish and you are a Christian? Shame on you.' They said to me, ‘We will tell the Algerians and Moroccans to kill you’."
CONVERT TO CHRISTIANITY
As a convert to Christianity from a devout Muslim family, he left Kurdistan in Iraq after receiving death threats, the Christian explained. He said he was detained and beaten by police for preaching in the streets, and twice received letters warning him that he would be killed if he did not return to Islam.
“In the mosque the imams talked about me, and my father, and my little brother, who became a Christian too... The imam talked about us – ‘they are kafir [unbelievers], they have to die,’ from the stage, into the mosque microphone. My father [a Muslim] was filled with shame,” he said. “They were taught bad things about us in the mosque: ‘The Christians are kafir.’ Of course, they [also] say you are slaves to Israel, to the American people.”
Within his family, five of his close relatives also became Christians, he said. This apparently strained relationships, including with his father and two brothers, who are imams. He said one of his brothers supports the Islamic State group, which, he said, has “definitely, definitely” created sleeper cells in Kurdistan.
He said his elderly father also tried to kill him, entering his bedroom one night with a knife. He left home the evening that four men, whom he described as having long beards and belonging to Islamic State, came to his family home and asked where he was. He heard his mother lie for him, saying he was not at home, and escaped through the back door without the opportunity to say goodbye to her.
He said he had flown from Kurdistan to Turkey and paid around $10,000 to cross the Mediterranean in the bottom of a boat packed with 56 others, including women and children. The Christian recalled that he had experienced kindness, as he and a friend made their way through Europe from Greece, through Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia. They reportedly travelled by bus and train and walked other stretches of the journey.
CHRISTIANS URGING PRAYERS
His future, and that of other Christian, remain uncertain as they reportedly face persecution in refugee camps. Open Doors says "much action is needed" and demands there be "no more integration experiments at the expense of Christians."
The well-informed group says victims of religiously motivated attacks in most centres represent the minority and that therefore Muslim militant attacks against Christians and other religious minorities are not well known to the facilities' operators and management.
Its concern is shares by aid workers of Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), which supports Christians facing persecution.
"Please uphold in prayer the Christians in refugee centres and camps around the world who are experiencing persecution from fellow inhabitants", it said in a statement to supporters. "Pray a blessing of unity among all the refugees, so that even if they don't practise the same religion, they will live in harmony with one another."
It was crucial, VOMC said, to "Ask the Lord to provide opportunities for His people to express compassion and kindness to others so that the Gospel may be proclaimed through both in word and deed, that peace will prevail" and "His name shall be exalted."