The Left's blindspot?

Meriam Ibrahim

Meriam Ibrahim's plight in Sudan draws attention to the mistreatment of Christians across the world, writes Owen Jones.

It seems as though Sudan's persecution of Meriam Ibrahim will not end. After finally being released two days ago from a death sentence for converting to Christianity, she and her family were detained by Sudanese security agents while they were trying to flee for US shores. But as well as the hope that she is finally liberated, her plight should draw attention to the persecution of Christians across the globe.

It is an issue not discussed enough by progressives, partly perhaps because of a fear that it has become a hobby horse of Muslim-bashers. Anti-Muslim websites like Jihad Watch seize on examples of Christian persecution to fuel the narrative of Muslims as innately violent and threatening.

According to Rupert Shortt, who wrote Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, the persecution of Christians is a 'liberal blind spot', suggesting that we are 'very, very sensitised to the perceived sufferings and complaints of Muslims, many of which I will be the first to say are justified.' I think this counterposing is unhelpful. According to the Pew Research Centre, Christians and Muslims are united in being the two most persecuted religious groups on Earth: in 2012, Christians faced oppression in 110 countries, and Muslims have suffered in 109. What should worry us is a general deterioration in inter-religious relations: according to Pew, 33% of countries had high religious hostilities in 2012, a dramatic jump from 20% in 2007.

Sudan is far from the worst offender: It scores 11th on the World Watch List of Open Doors UK, a charity fighting for the rights of persecuted Christians. North Korea's totalitarian dictatorship has the ignominy of topping the list: tens of thousands of Christians are believed to be locked up in Gulag-style work camps, although it should be said that life is hardly a bundle of laughs for many other North Koreans either. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has targetted Christians along with ordinary Muslims in the country's north-east. In Sri Lanka, meanwhile, over 2,000 Christians protested earlier this year over a lack of religious freedom and attacks by Buddhist extremists on their places of worship.

- Owen Jones

Read more: Why the left must speak up about the persecution of Christians (The Guardian)

Related coverage: Sudan death row case: US works for Meriam Ibrahim exit (BBC)  

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