- Exodus of biblical proportions
Hounded out of their homes by Islamist violence, Iraqi Christians face what many fear may be their final festive season in the land of their fathers as many prepare for exile
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Documented cases of Christians suffering “martyr” deaths for their faith almost doubled last year compared to 2012, with most occurring in several Muslim-majority countries that rank as most dangerous for members of the faith, according to the annual report of the non-denominational group Open Doors.
The US-based group said 2,123 killings were credibly documented in 2013, after 1,201 the previous year, and the 1,213 deaths in Syria alone were more than all those reported around the whole world in 2012.
For the twelfth year in a row, North Korea topped the Open Doors list of most repressive country for Christians. It had no figures for killings but said Christians faced massive pressure from authorities and up to 70,000 lived in political prison camps.
Open Doors research head Frans Veerman said the report’s figures were based only on verified accounts of killings and had to be seen as a minimal count of an extensive phenomenon. Other Christian groups have estimated annual killings as high as 8,000.
Above: A Syrian child is rescued after heavy shelling in Damascus on Boxing Day. The country’s nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, likened the bloodshed to the massacre of the Innocents. Photo: CNS/Reuters