"The number of persecuted Christians in the world is 150 million." There are many other figures, terrifying and dramatic, in the pages of the "Black book of the plight of Christians in the world", a unique initiative of French scholars and coordinated by journalist Samuel Lieven. Snapshots of a global and amorphous war.
In particular, there is a disconcerting statistic: "80 percent of the acts of religious persecution in the world are directed against Christians." How many victims? The Center for the Study of Global Christianity brings the average of one hundred thousand Christians killed each year for their faith throughout the last decade. An average of five Christians every minute.
Yesterday, in Pakistan, two Christians, including a pregnant woman, were burnt alive in the brick kiln where they worked. It was a pogrom with the participation of four hundred Muslims.
Haim Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France, cries out his reaction in the face of the spread of hatred against Christians, and establishes a comparison with the destruction of Eastern Sephardic Jewry:
"Where are the Jewish communities once so rich of Aleppo, Beirut, Alexandria, Cairo or Tripoli? Where are the schools of Nehardea and Pumbedita in Iraq? And where is the flourishing of Judaism in Esfahan and Tehran? In our memory. Driven out, killed, decimated, persecuted and exiled, the Christians of the East are personally experiencing the same plight as the Jews with whom they have lived for so long and have seen leaving those places".
The NGO Open Doors declared that the persecution in Iraq has reached "biblical proportions". Tuesday, in Rome, the annual report of Aid to the Church in Need was also presented. It told that of the 20 countries in the world where religious freedom is virtually absent, 14 are Muslim, and the others military or communist dictatorships, such as North Korea.
We are facing what Habib Malik of Stanford University calls "the final phase of the regional decline of Christians."
"I've got a family of Christians who do not want to convert, what do we do?".
Today Mosul appears to have been swallowed up, like Jonah in the belly of the whale.
"Between 2003 and 2009, nearly 800 Christians were executed [there] in cold blood, not counting the fifty martyrs of the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, including two priests, killed on October 31, 2010. To date, we have exceeded one thousand Christians killed, including a bishop and five priests. More than sixty churches were destroyed. "
In the book, a jihadist from the Islamic State speaks on the phone with his terrorist leader: "I've got a family of Christians who do not want to convert, what do we do?". A phrase that reminded me of the Seventh Day Adventist Tutsi pastors who, during the genocide in Rwanda, appealed to their pastor with a letter: "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families."
There are the Christians of Ma'aloula in Syria, such as Taalab Antoun and his two cousins, who received the ''aman", the Islamic guarantee to be spared. Unarmed and trusting the word of the rebels, they were killed and then beheaded.
Five hundred thousand Christians have already left Syria.
And before them, there was the story of Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last monk of Tibhirine, Algeria, where Islamists slaughtered the wonderful Trappist monks who shared meals with Muslims. He was saved because the jihadists counted wrong. Later, at the funeral of the monks, Brother Jean-Pierre asked to open the coffin to pay his last respects to his companions. He found that the crates contained no bodies, but only seven heads.
That massacre was the green light for future massacres.