Many migrants who are recent converts to Christianity fear retaliation from Muslims and that converting may become a “death sentence.”
One of the more surprising aspects of the migrant crisis has been the number of Muslims from places like Syria and Afghanistan, that have been converting to Christianity in Austrian churches. The Archdioceses of the Austrian capital in Vienna can hardly keep up with the requests as they get five to ten per week.
So far this year 83 percent of the recorded adult baptisms into the Catholic faith have been Muslims compared to 2015 when they were only 33 percent reports Kurier.
The numbers could grow even more in 2017 since the process for adult conversion to Catholicism called the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) can typically take up to a year to complete. The RCIA teaches new converts about the faith and it’s various rituals before candidates are often baptized over the following Easter.
Muslims who convert and leave Islam face a very real potential for violence and even death. A migrant to Austria who now calls himself Christopher told the Kurier,”this could be my death sentence.” Christopher came to Austria in 2012 and requested that his new Christian name be used because he fears not only reprisal against himself but his family as well.
The Catholic Church in Austria is well aware of what radical Muslims will do to new converts if they find out they were previously Muslims. Muslims consider leaving the Islamic faith as apostasy and the penalty according to the Sharia is death. The church is told of threats to parishioners on a regular basis and many new to the faith are justifiably reluctant to talk to outsiders.
Christopher is one of the few who wished to tell his story and his fears over his new found faith. The native Afghani said that he had been interested in becoming a Christian long before he fled to Austria. “A friend brought me a bible from Pakistan. I read it in secret and only at home. But I read it every day,” he admitted.
On paper Afghanistan has freedom of religion and religious expression, though in practice this is very much not the case in most areas of the country, where strict Islamic law still governs regardless of the hold on power by the Taliban.
An incident was recorded last year showing a woman named Farkhunda being savagely beaten to death for allegedly burning a Koran which emphasized the rule of Islamic religious law. Christians have it even worse as Christopher says simply, “whoever converts, is killed.”
Christopher now fears the same attitudes are emerging in Austria, especially among new migrants. He says he stays away from the Afghan community out of fear.
“In Austria it was once very safe for converts, but that has changed due to the strong migration movement. In refugee quarters it can also be dangerous,” said Friederike Dostal, who heads adult baptisms at the St. Stephan’s cathedral in Vienna.
Breitbart London has reported on Christians being abused by Muslims in migrant homes all over Europe. Many municipalities are considering separate accommodation for Christians and other minorities to prevent them being abused.
The danger, however, does not deter Christopher from his faith, “Christianity is the true religion,”he declared and said, “there is no turning back for me.”