Professing Christians are coming under increasing pressure to join the uprising in Syria or risk threats of violence, according to reports from Barnabas Fund (BF).
Partners of the organisation who are in the country have said that Syrian churches have received threatening letters calling them to join demonstrations, while nominally Christian villages have seen homes come under fire by masked men on motorbikes.
Muslim residents in the village of Hala are alleged to have issued an ultimatum to their Christian neighbours either to join the demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime or to leave.
Their demands are making life extremely difficult for Christians, who have closed their shops and are considering what course of action to take. Christians make up roughly 10 per cent of the population, according to latest figures.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, BF international director, said, ‘Syria has been a beacon of freedom and security for Christians in a largely hostile Arab world. If they are now forced to leave the country, where will they go?
‘The entire region is rocked by instability, and as Islamist groups seek to capitalise on the political unrest to advance their own agenda, the future of Christianity in that part of the world looks increasingly uncertain’.