photo credit: Alexander Koerner, Getty Images
PERSECUTION OF REFUGEES IN GERMANY
An estimated one million refugees are now living in Germany. Taking in so many refugees has posed some serious challenges for the country. One problem which had been ignored until recently is the increase in aggression and violence towards Christians in the refugee hostels. For this reason, Open Doors carried out a survey of Christian refugees in temporary accommodations in Germany who had experienced persecution on the grounds of faith. These were put into a report entitled Religiously motivated attacks on Christian refugees in Germany, consisting of 231 interviews carried out among refugees in a variety of locations in Germany over the last two months.
Thomas Muller, an Open Doors persecution analyst, said, “Christian refugees from many different countries are trying and failing to find safety in Europe, and it is likely that the report only shows the tip of the iceberg. It is clear that many Christian refugees – especially those who are converts to the Christian faith – live in fear of persecution from Muslim refugees who make up the majority of residents in the refugee hostels set up throughout Europe. It is sobering to hear persecuted Christians telling a Western country that they recognize the very same persecution patterns in operation as in their home countries.”
HARASSMENT AND PERSECUTION
The Christian refugees involved in the survey indicated that they had suffered from persecution both at the hands of fellow refugees and through hostel security staff. Some 75% stated that this had happened repeatedly. Persecution was suffered in the following ways (with the number of people affected in brackets):
- Insults (96)
- Bodily harm (86)
- Death threats – also towards family (73)
- Very loud religious music or prayer (62)
In addition there were physical attacks in the form of punches, spitting, pushing and sexual abuse.
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
These figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Many Christian refugees are frightened of facing more difficulties if they report incidents. For instance, there is genuine fear that the information could get into the wrong hands and cause danger for relatives still living in their home countries. Others have given up all hope of receiving help. The research was also limited by the time available to local partners working with refugees. It is therefore clear that the actual number of incidents is far higher than recorded in this report.
Only one in five of those surveyed had been to the police or hostel authorities to report an incident. In most cases nothing was done to offer the victims protection. Very often the Christians were not taken seriously or faced complaints against their own conduct, which made their situation worse. The language barrier also proved to be a great problem, particularly where unsympathetic translators were used and translators relayed false information.
WHAT PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS NEED
Some 80% of the refugees surveyed saw a need for separate accommodation for Christians and Muslims. Others suggested that seminars be held for all refugees to educate them on German law, rights and the freedom of religion. Further suggestions included the need for special training for security staff at the asylum centers and hostels to be able to cope with conflicts caused by religious differences.
In order to ensure the protection of Christian refugees in German refugee housing, Open Doors Germany is campaigning to make politicians and other responsible parties aware of these needs.
WHO WAS SURVEYED?
Open Doors Germany published its first results based on 231 questionnaires filled out earlier this year. Some 82% of those questioned were male and over half of those questioned were younger than 30 years old. Most of those questioned came from Iran (approx. 69%), 13% from Afghanistan and 5% from Syria. 86% of those participating in the survey were Christians with a Muslim background. Of these, the majority had already converted to the Christian faith in their home countries.
- For protection for Christian refugees in Germany and other parts of Europe
- For wisdom for German and European politicians and leaders
- For support for refugees traumatized by what they have seen and suffered.