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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

For Many Christians in Middle East, Intimidation or Worse - WSJ


http://www.wsj.com/articles/for-many-christians-in-middle-east-intimidation-or-worse-1469573266

For Many Christians in Middle East, Intimidation or Worse

Persecution extends beyond Islamic State in Syria and Iraq



Coptic Christians walking outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, last year. Photo: Roger Anis/Associated Press

BEIRUT—The attack on a French church signals the arrival in Europe of a type of intimidation long familiar to Christians in the Middle East, whether from religious extremists, other armed groups or even secular governments.

In areas of Syria and Iraq under its control, Islamic State has seized churches, dismantling crucifixes and vandalizing paintings depicting scenes out of the Bible—considered to be idolatry in their hard-line interpretation of Islam. Many Christians flee when the militants sweep their areas; thousands escaped from northern Iraq when Islamic State took over in summer 2014.

Islamic State and its Affiliates

Its branch in Libya killed 21 Egyptian Christians and 31 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians in two separate massacres last year, slitting their throats and recording their deaths for Islamic State propaganda, which highlighted their religion as justification for the slaughter.

Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, Sinai Province, in late June claimed the shooting death of a Christian priest in the north Sinai city Al Arish. The group said the priest was targeted for being a “disbelieving combatant.” It has attacked hundreds of police and military personnel in the area since 2014.