Ali from Iran sits under a picture of Jesus on the cross, surrounded by Persian writing . There are biblical quotations.
John 8, verse 12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Said is a kick-boxer. He traveled accross Turkey on foot. He never thought for one minute that his problems would only really begin in Germany.
”In Iran the Revolutionary guards have arrested my brother in a Church safe house. I fled the Iranian intelligence because I thought that in Germany I could now practice my religion freely.”he said.
”But in my home for asylum seekers I cannot openly admit I am Christian without fear of being threatened.” he says.
Said lives in a home for asylum seekers in Southern Brandenburg near the Saxony border. It is one of the ”jungle homes” without any connection to a bus route.
Those living there are mainly Syrian refugees, mostly devout Sunni Muslims.
”They used to wake me before dawn during Ramadan and say I should eat before the sun comes up. If I refused they would call me a kuffar, an unbeliever, and spit at me.” says Said
”They treat me like an animal and threaten to kill me.” Said says he has called the security service but the are not interested in his problems because they are also Muslims.
Sitting beside Said in the Community room of the Lutheran Trinity Church in Berlin-Stieglitz, is Pastor Gottfried Martens, on his lap a stack of papers. They are the numerous letters to the heads of refugee camps, the Social Security Office, and to the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Security which is responsible for distributing refugees to the various temporary shelters.
The letters are cries for help, in which Martens asks members to protect his community or move them to other homes.
”Sometimes the home managers try to help , other times I get no response. ” says Martens.
Around 600 Afghans and Iranians belong to his church. Most of them he himself baptised.
”Almost all have big problems in their homes.” says Martens. ”Devout Muslims there teach the view: Where we are there is the Sharia, there is our Law.”
In the kitchens Christians cannot prepare their own food. Those who do not pray five times a day to Mecca are bullied. ”Above all Christians who have converted from Islam have to suffer as a minority.” says Martens, ”And they ask themselves the question: ‘What happens when the devout Muslims leave the homes , will we have to hide ourselves as Christians in the future in this country.”
“THE FANATICS SOUND LIKE ISIS MURDERERS: THEY SHOUT QUR’ANIC VERSES: THE WORDS ISIS SHOUT BEFORE THEY CUT OFF PEOPLES HEADS”
Said’s story is not unique and is one of many in recent weeks.
In Hemer, Algerian asylum seekers attacked an Eritrean and his pregnant wife, both wore baptismal crosses around their necks. They were hit about the head with glass bottles.
A young Syrian staying in a Refugee Reception Centre (Erstaufnahmelager) in Giessen reported threats. He is greatly concerned that among the refugees there are members of ISIS.
”They shout Quranic verses , these are the words ISIS shout before they cut off peoples heads. I cannot stay here, I am a Christian.” he says.
In Baden-Württemberg there was a brawl between Christians Yazidis and Muslims during Ramadan.
Especially dramatic is the case of an Iraqi Christian family who were housed in the Bavarian town of Freising.
The father told a crew from Bayerischer Rundfunk (public service broadcaster Radio and Television, based in Munich), They were beaten and threatened by Syrian Islamists. ” They yelled at my wife and beat my children. They threatened to kill us and drink our blood” he said.
The family lived in the home like prisoners until they could no longer tolerate it and returned to Iraq and Mosul. Unfortunately Christians can no longer live safely in Mosul . The family was displaced yet again and had to move on to Erbil in Northern Iraq.
They are suffering greatly according to their lawyer Christian Salek from Munich. ”I wanted to make them happy back here in Germany . I have written to the Home Office but there is no way to bring them back to Germany.”..anyone who has applied for asylum and then leaves ,has to sign that they wish to receive it for a second time.
UNDER REPORTING OF SUCH CASES IS VERY COMMON
”One would have to protect the family” says Simon Jacob of the Central Council for Eastern Christians. Stories like these no longer surprise him. ”I know a lot of reports of Christian refugees under attack , but that’s just the tip of the iceberg .” says Jacob.
The number of unreported cases is high,. We must expect further conflicts that bring refugees from their homeland to Germany. Between Christians and Muslims. Between Shiites and Sunnis.Between Yazidis and extremists.” Jacob argues that the refugees could initially be accommodated separately according to religion, but this could never be a long term solution.
Jacob calls for the formulation of a German mission statement in which the values of democracy and a pluralistic society are anchored.
Religious freedom. Freedom of speech. Equality between men and women. ”We need a clear statement as well as an orientation aid for refugees, and to help them to distinguish themselves against extremists.” says Jacob.
”Of course refugees bring their own experiences of conflict, for example , between Shiites and Sunnis or Christians and Muslims” said the renowned migration researcher and historian Klaus J. Bade,
He calls for forthcoming integration issues , sociopolitical visions and future oriented concepts. He also calls for a higher model which both the Germans and refugees can and must identify
”This is the price that every refugee that wants to live in Germany must pay”. Bade calls for affiliate guidance ,tailored to the country of origin at the integration course.
CHRISTIANS AND YAZIDIS ARE MOST AT RISK
”Often the aggression comes from Afghans or Pakistanis. they are often more Islamist than many Syrians or Iraqis,” says Max Klingberg of the International Society for Human Rights, who has been active in refugee care for 15 years.
It is assumed that the violence in the refugee centres will continue to increase. ”We must rid ourselves of the illusion that all those that arrive here are human rights activists. Among the new arrivals there is a significant amount of religious intensity, at least to the level of that of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The closer people are living together the sooner political and religious conflicts will break forth.
”Voluntary reports of aggression and threats of decapitation between Shiites and Sunnis have been made, but the Yazidis and Christians are hardest hit.” says Klingberg.
”Christian converts who do not conceal their faith are 100% more likely to become victims of abuse and harassment.”
The only State that is currently trying to accommodate refugees separately by origin is Thuringia . The decision by Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow was precipitated by an outbreak of violence in a refugee shelter in Suhl last month.
The implementation is difficult ”We pay attention to conflict sensitive housing and try to distribute on different floors or accommodate different people from different countries into their own separate housing.” says Thuringa Justice and Migration Minister, Dieter Lauinger.
”This is presently only restricted to the current situation but we want to expand for any further influx.”
Lauiger’s separation according to religion is not the solution. Intensely religious Muslims must learn to live with other religions. ” Presently it is tolerating the balancing act between the conflict avoidant accommodation and clear request to other cultures and religions.”
Ali Reza Rahmani from Iran wears his baptismal cross around his neck, on his wrist a colorful ribbon. Because he no longer felt safe in the refugee housing, Pastor Martens has granted him sanctuary.
”I can no longer hide the fact that I am a Christian” says Rahmani who is called in the community by his baptismal name. Elija. ”As christian I am not sure in the asylum centre”
The hostilities against Said and Elija were not just isolated cases says Martens. ”It’s long been a nationwide problem”
This situation cannot be a permanent state , but nevertheless Martens has just bought new folding mattresses in a sale!
source: translated from an article in Die Welt