By Tyler O’Neil
young boy with a Swedish flag painted on his face
[Getty Images] Boy’s face, looking at camera, cropped view with digitally placed Sweden flag on his face.
As Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees seek and find asylum in Europe, they bring their religious tensions and persecution with them. Specifically, Muslim migrants often persecute Christian migrants, or immigrants who converted to Christianity. Open Doors Deutschland documented 743 attacks on Christians in Germany in 2016, and German police documented another 100 in 2017. Similar violence plagues Christian refugees in Sweden, but the Scandinavian country has yet to issue an investigation.
“I fled the war to avoid this kind of thing,” a Christian refugee from Syria known by the alias Amir, told police, according a local newspaper in 2015. A 26-year-old jihadist and fellow Syrian refugee threatened to “slaughter” Amir, cut his throat, and even harm his family back in Syria. The man who threatened him was eventually sentenced to probation and fined 8,000 kronor (approximately $900) in damages.
A survey published by Open Doors Sweden last year found that Amir is far from alone. One hundred and twenty-three Christian asylum-seekers reported religiously motivated persecution, and 512 separate incidents. Christian refugees received 65 violent assaults, 55 death threats, 7 cases of sexual assault, along with instances of social exclusion, insults, contempt, and threats. More than half, 53 percent, said they had been violently attacked at least once. Almost half, 45 percent, reported receiving at least one death threat.
More than three-quarters of those who faced such persecution were converts to Christianity, and almost all of the perpetrators were Muslim. Other refugees or immigrants carried out more than four-in-five (81 percent) of the attacks, 415 out of 512. The most popular solution suggested by victims? Separate housing for Christian and Muslim immigrants.
“One time they told my daughter that she was not allowed to eat in the canteen without wearing a headscarf, if she wanted to keep her head,” one of the survey participants told Open Doors. “Another time, they told my son that he was not allowed to have a visible cross around his neck if he wanted to remain in one piece.”
Survey participants reported that perpetrators had been hired by the Swedish Migration Agency or the refugee home. “When only the Muslim staff was working at the refugee shelter, they looked at me strangely, treated me unfairly, spread lies, mocked me, and excluded me,” one Christian migrant said. “This spread to the entire staff. Even the manager of the refugee shelter was one of those who bullied me.”
In an article for National Review, Jacob Rudenstrand, deputy general secretary of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, and Peter Paulsson, director of Open Doors Sweden, lamented that “the reaction both in the media and from government officials have been cool.”
Report: Islamic Oppression Fuels Two-Thirds of the Worst Persecution Against Christians