Why the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians

Meriam Ibrahim with her daughter, who was born in Omdurman women's prison last weekIt seems as though Sudan’s persecution of Meriam Ibrahim will not end. After finally being released two days ago from a death sentence for converting to Christianity, she and her family have been arrested by Sudanese security agents after trying to flee for US shores. But as well as hoping that she is finally liberated, her plight should draw attention to the persecution of Christians across the globe.

It is an issue not discussed enough by progressives, partly perhaps because of a fear that it has become a hobby horse of Muslim-bashers. Anti-Muslim websites like Jihad Watch seize on examples of Christian persecution to fuel the narrative of Muslims as innately violent and threatening.

According to Rupert Shortt, who wrote Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, the persecution of Christians is a “liberal blind spot”, suggesting that we are “very, very sensitised to the perceived sufferings and complaints of Muslims, many of which I will be the first to say are justified.” I think this counterposing is unhelpful. According to the Pew Research Centre, Christians and Muslims are united in being the two most persecuted religious groups on Earth: in 2012, Christians faced oppression in 110 countries, and Muslims have suffered in 109. What should worry us is a general deterioration in inter-religious relations: according to Pew, 33% of countries had high religious hostilities in 2012, a dramatic jump from 20% in 2007.


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