Al-Arab newspaper quoted from a British report on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, entitled "Persecution of Christians Is Approaching Genocide in the Middle East." The report indicates that Turkey came at the top of the list of countries where the persecution against Christians is practiced, where the government and its media outlets, as well as the political leadership are involved in systematic and ongoing campaigns to spread the antagonism among the people of the sect.
The report which was prepared by the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, says millions of Christians in the region have been uprooted from their homes, as many of them were killed, some abducted and others jailed, revealing a shocking picture of discrimination suffered by Christians across Southeast and Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and this is often done with the support of the ruling regimes.
The report highlighted the Justice and Development Party led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discredit the Christians in the view of Turkish Muslims.
The ruling party in Turkey depicts the Christians as "a threat to the stability of the nation," and that its speech often describes Turkish Christian citizens as not "true Turks," but merely "Western collaborators."
This was not the first report that warned against the situation of minorities in Turkey and Christians in particular. On Monday, the American Committee of Religious Freedom issued its annual report on the exercise of the right to freedom of religion and belief, listing Turkey among the countries that must be strictly controlled in the file of freedom of belief and religions.
The Committee emphasized that the pro-Turkish press and media outlets continue to disseminate hatred speech against Christians and Jews alike, pointing out that the unjust detention of the American Priest Andrew Brunson for more than two years gave way to the hatred speech against the Christians.
And the various international reports have been linking the suffering of minorities and hatred speech with the rise of radical Islamic currents to power and the growing of influence within the state, even if it does not control the government. Perhaps the most dangerous means of influence of these currents is to push people to restore the battles of the past and turn them into battles in the present against citizens within the same country.
In countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, the situation of Christians and other minorities has reached an alarming stage, as there are strict restrictions on all forms of Christian practices, including public worship actions.
The report identified several reasons for persecution, including political failure that creates fertile ground for religious extremism, the rise of conservatives in countries such as Algeria and Turkey, the institutional weakness at the level of justice, the rule of law and security, leaving the way open to the extremists to practice all forms of persecution against minorities.
He said the hatred speech against Christians broadcasted by religious leaders and published by the state media outlets jeopardized the safety of Christians and created a wave of intolerance in societies.
"In some cases, the state, extremist groups, families and communities are collectively involved in persecution and discrimination. In countries such as Iran, Algeria and Qatar, the country is the main actor. As well as governmental and non-governmental actors, especially extremist religious groups are involved in targeting minorities in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt. Abduction, detention and imprisonment remain common in countries such as Iran and Egypt.
The importance of this report is coinciding with a period in which the world is witnessing the consequences of religious intolerance and targeting of certain sects following the attacks on churches in Sri Lanka and Kenya, and the attack on mosques in New Zealand.
The report shows that Christians constituted 20 percent of the population of the Middle East and North Africa a century ago. But since then, it has fallen to less than 4 percent, or about 15 million people.
In the Middle East and North Africa, "persecution between routine discrimination in education, employment and social life and attacks aimed at the annihilation of Christian communities has led to the exodus of a large number of Christians from this region since the beginning of the century," he says.
"The level and nature of persecution are nearing the definition of international genocide adopted by the United Nations," the report says, adding that the elimination of Christians and other minorities by force of arms or other violent means is the specific and declared goal of extremist groups in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and northeastern Nigeria and the Philippines.
The intention of the groups is represented in the obliteration of all evidence of Christian existence. This was evident when the signs of the cross were removed, and church buildings and other religious symbols were destroyed.