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Report: Christians are most persecuted religious group in the world
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Report: Christians are most persecuted religious group in the world

Nears genocide levels

Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, according to an interim British report.

The Anglican Bishop of Truro the Right Rev. Philip Mounstephen recently published an overview of his findings that showed the persecution of Christians in some parts of the world has neared genocide levels.

"Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity," the Bishop wrote. "In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN."

An estimated "80% of persecuted religious believers are Christians," according to Mountstephen.

The findings come after 359 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in attacks at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered the report in late December. A full report of the findings are expected in June. The situation in Europe and Eurasia remain to be analyzed, Mountstephen wrote.

What are the details?

The findings estimated that about 1 in 3 people around the world are persecuted for their faith with Christians being the most mistreated group.

"Though it is impossible to know the exact numbers of people persecuted for their faith, based on reports from different NGOs, it is estimated that one-third of the world's population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group," the report read.

In some areas of the Middle East, Christianity has declined dramatically in recent years and the faith is at risk of disappearing entirely, the bishop warned.

The main impact of such genocidal acts against Christians is exodus. Christianity now faces the possibility of being wiped-out in parts of the Middle East where its roots go back furthest.

In Palestine, Christian numbers are below 1.5 percent; in Syria the Christian population has declined from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 and in Iraq, Christian numbers have slumped from 1.5 million before 2003 to below 120,000 today.

Christianity is at risk of disappearing, representing a massive setback for plurality in the region.

What has caused the discrimination against Christians?

Hunt told BBC News that he believe the atmosphere of political correctness among governments could be part of the problem.

"What we have forgotten in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet," he told the news outlet.

"I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonizers," he added.

What else?

Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told BBC that Jews could empathize with Christians who are persecuted.

"Whether it is in authoritarian regimes, or bigotry masked in the mistaken guise of religion, reports like the one launched today remind us that there are many places in which Christians face appalling levels of violence, abuse and harassment," she said.

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