Persecution of Christians Pervasive Across the Muslim World

October 29, 2006

Christian Freedom International Urges Renunciation of Violence
FRONT ROYAL, Va., Oct. 5 /Christian Newswire/ — Violence continues throughout the Muslim world in response to Pope Benedict’s recent remarks about Islam. Some Christian churches in Iraq have posted letters indicating their disagreement with the Pope in an attempt to avoid attack.

According to Christian Freedom International president Jim Jacobson, “as long as almost any criticism of Islam is met with violence, a serious dialogue between Christians and Muslims is impossible.”

In a world driven by economic, ethnic, and religious differences, people desperately seek dialogue. It is certainly better to talk than to fight. And much can be achieved if people set aside their differences to work together for common ends.

However, genuine dialogue requires confronting real problems. There is much in history about which those of both the Christian and Muslim faiths–and others as well–must regret. Injustice was committed by the use of violence by those claiming to speak for God. The victims of such injustice were many.

Today the picture is very different. By no means is the Christian church perfect–“God tells us that all men have fallen short of His glory,” emphasizes Jacobson. But over the last several hundred years Christians have come to recognize that violence and force have no place in promoting the Gospel message.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in the Muslim world. That sad reality is evident from the response to the Pope’s speech: the murder of a nun in Somalia, church burnings by Palestinians, attacks on churches in Iraq, and threats against Christians elsewhere. The problem of Islamic violence against non-Muslims of all faiths is not locked in history. It is today.

Equally serious is the problem of persecution and discrimination. “The bias against Christians is pervasive across the Muslim world,” explains Jacobson. “Of course, some countries are freer and more tolerant than others. Nevertheless, it is virtually impossible to find a Muslim-majority nation in which Christians are not oppressed, while it is similarly hard to locate a Christian-majority state in which Muslims are victimized.”

The starting point for any inter-faith dialogue must be a discussion of the willingness of Islamic governments to stop the persecution of non- Muslims. “Freedom of conscience is a prerequisite for religious faith, and it must be protected for everyone,” says Jacobson.

There is much in culture and history that divides believers in God. But we also have much in common. The foundation for future religious dialogue and cooperation must be the renunciation of violence in the name of faith.

Christian Freedom International is a human rights organization for religious liberty, helping persecuted Christians.

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