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German activists decry attacks on Christians

May 9, 2016

Muslim migrants discriminate against religious minorities in German refugee centers, a Christian group has said. According to their report, Christians refugees are being harassed, insulted and attacked.

German authorities shipping migrants back to Tunisia
Image: picture alliance/dpa/S. Willnow

German refugee centers need to offer more protection to non-Muslims, Christian organization Open Doors Germany said on Monday, while presenting a new report in Berlin.

The organization's head, Markus Rode, spoke of a rising climate of "fear and panic" among the newcomers.

The group, which supports prosecuted Christians worldwide, interviewed 231 Christian migrants residing in Germany, most of them from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

According to survey, an overwhelming majority (88 percent) said they have been targeted by other migrants because of their religion. Additionally, almost one-half of survey participants accused guards of discriminating against religious minorities or harassing them.

In Germany's refugee housing, both the migrants and the security personal are mostly Muslim.

Out of 231 Christian migrants, 42 percent have reported insults, 37 percent said they suffered a physical injury, and 32 percent allegedly received death threats.

The reports is only "the tip of the iceberg," said Open Doors' chief Rode.

Mandatory prayers

At the Monday press conference, Syrian refugee Fadi S. said he was "shocked" to meet Muslim fundamentalists in a German refugee home after fleeing his country to escape religious extremism.

According to a Protestant minister from Berlin, Christian refugees had been threatened after refusing to take part in an Islamic prayer with other migrants.

Afghan refugees ask to return home

In the past, church and state officials have described attacks on Christians as an individual, and not a systemic problem.

However, activist and preacher Gottfried Martens said this viewpoint is playing down the extent of the problem. Martens added he was "speechless, that people are still holding on to this 'individual' perspective," and asked if the "very last Christian needs to be attacked," before this position is abandoned.

Pushing for separation

Open Doors Germany and other activists groups urged politicians to protect religious minorities and lump non-Muslims in large groups. Others have suggested that Christians, Yezidis and other minorities should be housed separately from the Muslim refugees.

Activists also suggested that the state hire more translators and security guards that are not Muslims, and to have mediators that would handle complaints from Christian refugees.

In 2015, Germany received over one million immigrants, mostly from North Africa and the Middle East. The rate of influx has slowed down significantly since January.

dj/kms (epd, dpa, KNA)