Christians fleeing Muslim persecution are finding just as much oppression in the refugee camps and shelters of Germany as they suffered in their home states. As the vast majority of asylum seekers are Muslims, many of whom have imported an adherence to sharia law with them, the few Christian co-travellers find themselves ostracised, abused, and even physically attacked.
The German state of Thuringia has been forced to implement a policy of segregating migrants from different backgrounds as soon as they reach the state, thanks to the persistent persecution of Christians by Muslim migrants.
Joshua, a Pakistani Christian fleeing threats of violence in his home country has told the German state broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) that life “in the refugee camp is not really different from that in my home country. 98 per cent of asylum seekers there are Muslims and they threaten me, call me a Kufr, an unbeliever. I’m afraid there, very afraid. Mostly I stay in my room.”
His fellow refugee Elias, who, along with Joshua now worships at The Trinity Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Berlin, tells a similar story. Elias fled Iran after joining an underground church before he was even able to be baptized into the faith.
He escaped Iran via Turkey and made his way to Germany alone, fearful for his life. “But in the refugee camp, as it emerged that I am a Christian, [the persecution] continued. One woman called me unclean and said that I should not use the kitchen. During Ramadan, they woke me up and told me to eat before sunrise.
“I escaped and came here to live and practice my faith in peace. I know many of [the migrants] have gone through terrible times, but we should all be tolerant,” he said.
In August Germany announced that all Syrian refugees who came to the country would not be deported before being assessed. In doing so it effectively encouraged migrants to circumvent the Dublin Regulation, which identifies the Member State responsible for the examination of an asylum claim in the European Union.
The regulation is intended to avoid asylum seekers being sent from one country to another or being able to abuse the system by the submission of several applications. The country in which the migrant first applies for asylum is responsible for either accepting or rejecting the claim, and the seeker may not restart the process in another jurisdiction.
Germany’s actions encouraged migrants to cross Europe before initiating asylum applications.
Elias faces deportation back to Hungary as he first crossed into the EU there. He is fearful that, thanks to Hungary’s hard line approach to the recent migration crisis in Europe, his asylum claim will fail and he will be sent back to Iran. He now feels like a second-class refugee.
“Of course I’m happy for everyone who is allowed to stay in Germany,” he said. “But why should Muslims insult me in our home, calling me an infidel, and then those refugees are allowed to stay when I am not? I do not understand.”
Pastor Gottfried Martens, leader of Trinity Church hears stories like these every day. “Our Christian refugees are experiencing much oppression in the homes. They are abused, ostracized and even physically attacked. Many of the asylum centres, in my opinion, are not run in accordance with Christian values, with Sharia Islamic law.”
On his desk lie contact addresses for the directors of the migrant centres, social services and the Berlin State Office for Health and Social affairs, which oversees the distribution of migrants to the various centres, all of whom he has contacted seeking help for the Christian refugees who come through his door.
Occasionally he receives an answer, he says, but more often his pleas are ignored. “I think the shelter staff are simply overwhelmed by the situation. In order to integrate the newcomers, we really need many more social workers, psychologists and so on.”
With around 600 refugees in his community, many of whom are fleeing the asylum centres just as they fled their countries, Pastor Martens has now opened up his church to those seeking alternative accommodation. The majority of those through his door are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, where persecution of Christians is rife.
Elias is one of many sleeping on a mattress on the church floor. Pastor Martens believes Hungary would deport him back to Iran, which would mean death.
However, the community spaces he provides are rapidly filling up, with more people coming in daily. “Our members are afraid. Afraid in the homes of experiencing the same violence they suffered before they fled.”