Persecution expected to rise in 2024

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Persecution against Christians is expected to rise in several countries in the coming year, according to Release International.

The organisation’s new Persecution Trends report, released this week, warns of an intensfication of persecution in a number of countries, including Nigeria, India, Pakistan and China in 2024.

Nigeria has suffered one of its worst Christmases after 160 were killed in a series of attacks in Plateau State between 23 December and Christmas Day. 

Morning Star News reports that the dead include church members and pastors, while hundreds of homes have been destroyed. 

Release International’s Nigeria partner confirmed the reports. They said, “We are deeply saddened by these incidents and condemn these killings and attacks on innocent Christians during their worship.”

The Persecution Trends report predicts that persecution in Nigeria will rise in 2024. Attacks on Christian communities by jihadists are “dispossessing them of their lands by destroying their food supplies and forcing them to convert or flee”. These attacks are expected to continue next year.

Release CEO Paul Robinson is calling on the worldwide Church to pray for Christians in Nigeria. He also wants the Nigerian government “to take decisive and effective action to protect its vulnerable communities”.

“Our hearts go out to beleaguered Christians in Nigeria. We join them in their grief,” he said. 

In India, anti-conversion laws have made life hard for Christians, while Manipur is still reeling from ethnic violence that killed an estimated 175 people this year. Tens of thousands were driven from their homes and hundreds of churches were burnt down in the violence. Months later, many Christians have nowhere to meet.

General elections are due to be held in India between April and May 2024. If the ruling Hindu-nationalist BJP wins again, Release predicts that “persecution will rachet up again”. 

Its partners in the country warn, “The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities increases dramatically with each passing month.”

In China, it is expected that censorship will be scaled up in the new year and President Xi Jinping will press on with his goal of religious “sinicization”, bringing churches into line with the values and ideology of the Communist Party.

“The goal is to eliminate Christianity within China altogether,” say Release International’s partners in the country.

Mr Robinson said, “Anti-Christian persecution is rising in India and other nations around the world. Hostility is turning to violence. Christians are being attacked and driven from their homes.

“Release International works with partners on the ground in these countries to target aid, support and relief where it is most needed. They urgently need our help.”

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