ICC: Beirut Explosion Sends Shockwaves Through Iraq

Last week’s catastrophe in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut is one the most forceful and damaging non-nuclear explosions in world history. Over 2,700 tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate ignited in an explosion that was reportedly felt in both Cyprus and Damascus. Most corners of Beirut have significant damage, and it is estimated that tens of thousands are now homeless.


(International Christian Concern (ICC)) – Last week’s catastrophe in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut is one the most forceful and damaging non-nuclear explosions in world history.

Over 2,700 tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate ignited in an explosion that was reportedly felt in both Cyprus and Damascus. Most corners of Beirut have significant damage, and it is estimated that tens of thousands are now homeless.

The entire global community was shocked by this disaster.

But nearby in Iraq, where militias run rampant, and the storage of explosives in residential areas is common, the shock was underscored by the thought, “This could have happened here.” It is a reality that has helped propel Christian immigration from the country.

One Christian living in Baghdad watched in disbelief at the events unfolding in Lebanon. “I would imagine that this explosion happens in Iraq rather than Beirut! I think Iranians have more influence in Iraq. We are geographically closer to Iran. In Iraq, there are many more military bases that belong to Iran. The Iraqi government should start looking for such materials, like ammonium nitrate, to avoid any similar disaster!”

Indeed, Beirut’s catastrophe did seem to hit home for some Iraqi officials. The head of Iraq’s Border Ports Authority quickly began forming a committee intended to clear out all hazardous inventory from the border ports. They were given 72 hours to complete the task. But in some ways, it was an order that missed the point: hazardous materials are stored everywhere in Iraq, not just the ports. These materials are connected to militias and their respective political parties, many of whom are heavily under Iranian influence.

“Iraq and Lebanon have similarities on so many things,” adds another Baghdad Christian. “Mainly the influence of Iran, which results in a militia existence in both countries. Those militias could be different in approaches, but there is one thing that they 100% share: corruption. Since they are recognized as terrorist groups and they can’t get resources unless it is under the table.”

“Corruption results in risking thousands of lives every day. Stocking explosive materials in Iraq among civilians’ houses is risking lives; bad storage at the border is risking lives. I think we can have examples as much as you can read,” he continues. “These militias one way or another are destroying the Middle East. Wherever there is Iran or its militia, there are disasters, crimes, and abuse of human rights. That results in the leaving of Christians and other people who can’t be a member of a militia for religious or social reasons.”

Such scenarios are already playing out, reminds a Christian business owner in Baghdad. He specifically remembers examples similar to Beirut occurring in the Christian areas of Iraq, thanks to both ISIS and Hashid militias. He says, “I would like to remind everyone of all the explosions that took place in Iraq; there were huge ones that result in damage to hundreds of houses. Go and look at Mosul and the Nineveh Plains!”

“All that results in the immigration of Christians and other minorities,” he adds. “When militias and Hashid come and store explosive materials next to your house, what will you do? You will get killed if you talk, and you will get killed if you stay at the same house. (There are) no options! How many explosions took place in Baghdad, such as because Hashid facilities have been targeted by the international coalition?!! ISIS and other extremist groups since 2003 have impacted Christians’ life so much.”

This reality has frustrated so many Iraqi Christians in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion. For those who had tried immigrating, Lebanon was a common destination during the intermediary stage. At least, unlike other neighboring countries, there was a sizeable Lebanese Christian population to integrate with during the interim. But now with Lebanon destroyed, immigration looks harder. Its destruction serves as a reminder of what so many Iraqi Christians were trying to flee.

A Christian from Qeraqosh explained, “I have experienced so many wars, since 1980 and 1991 and later. The safe place during the war was home, but not anymore. You could die even if you are at your home, just if any militia decided to store their weapons and rockets in your neighborhood.”

Such a reality sits uneasily in the minds of Christians. “Is there still a place to live in this country?” asks one woman. “When you lose someone close to your heart, that is the worst thing that could happen to someone, especially if the cause of death was avoidable. Militias are avoidable. After every explosion and targeting, I see people leaving the country. We ended up strangers. Friends and relatives are leaving one after one, can you tell me when that will have an end?”

The explosion in Lebanon was avoidable. But Iranian regional influence, militias, and their respective political parties, make it a possible scenario in many Middle East countries. For Iraqi Christians, it is an explosion that sends shockwaves throughout the community.

For there is no way to escape such a possibility, except to leave.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (August 2020) Beirut Explosion Sends Shockwaves Through Iraq

Iranian Christian Woman Arrested

Last Tuesday evening, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested a Christian woman living in Tehran named Malihe Nazari. This occurred in addition to the other twelve Christians who were arrested two weeks prior, the International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.


Last Tuesday evening, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested a Christian woman living in Tehran named Malihe Nazari. This occurred in addition to the other twelve Christians who were arrested two weeks prior, the International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.

Dozens more were told they would soon be summoned for questioning.

Malihe is a member of a women’s-only house-church in Tehran known as One Heart. As is common in such arrests, her house was searched. The authorities confiscated her computer, mobile phone, and several books.

She was transported to Evin Prison and has been able to briefly contact her family. Malihe is the mother of two sons, the eldest of which has reportedly been battling cancer.

Despite Iran’s claim to never arrest citizens for their faith, incidents such as this are not uncommon to Christians.

Not only do these arrests infringe on Christians’ rights to practice their faith, but they further endanger already vulnerable families like Mahile’s who may live in poverty or are battling an illness.

As reported, twelve Iranian Christians were arrested two weeks ago by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. These arrests occurred in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, and Malayer. The authorities also obtained the contact info for dozens more, saying they would be summoned soon for questioning.

The raids were allegedly coordinated through an informant.

At a Tehran house-church, one Armenian Christian and five converts were arrested. The other 24 Christians who were present but not arrested had their mobile phones confiscated.

Three more converts were also arrested in the Tehran-Karaj area, and later another three in Malayer. The last three have since been released on bail of 30 million tomans ($1,500 USD).

No information has been released on the fate of the other nine Christians yet, other than that two have had their bail set for 50 million tomans ($2,500).

Although a reason for arrest was not explicitly stated, the Christians’ homes were searched specifically for Bibles, Christian literature, and communication devices.

It is not uncommon for Iranian Christians to be arrested for their faith, despite Iran’s claim never to arrest citizens for their beliefs.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (July 2020) Iranian Christian Woman Arrested

Christians in Pakistan Beaten by Extremists

On June 22, a group of an estimated 50 Islamic radicals attacked the Christian residents of Racecourse, a Christian neighborhood located in Karachi, Pakistan.


On June 22, a group of an estimated 50 Islamic radicals attacked the Christian residents of Racecourse, a Christian neighborhood located in Karachi, Pakistan.

According to a video shared by Johnson Bhatti and Dilawar Bhatti through social media, “a dispute between Christians and Muslims erupted when a Muslim man beat a Christian sanitary worker and his son for refusing to clean his street.”

It is also common practice for Muslims to abuse Christians through the use of the slur “choora”.

As a result, local religious and political leaders intervened in the situation, and reconciliation was reached as both parties signed an agreement.

However, there is little doubt that this will help protect the Christians. Bhatti shared with ICC that “Muslims will rebound as they chanted torching Christian’s houses, disgracing women, vandalizing Churches and Christian’s properties.”

Therefore, our youth is also vigilant to counter their attack if they plan, added Bhatti.

“Authorities should ensure protection toward Christians. Also, pray for the threats against their community,” requested Bhatti.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (July 2020) Pakistani Christians Beaten by Extremists

Iraqi Christians Evacuate Following Turkish Airstrikes

On Saturday, the International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that since the beginning of Turkey’s airstrike operations in northern Iraq, nine of the 11 Christian villages in the Zakho district have reportedly evacuated.


On Saturday, the International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that since the beginning of Turkey’s airstrike operations in northern Iraq, nine of the 11 Christian villages in the Zakho district have reportedly evacuated.

The Turkish Defense Ministry began Operation Eagle Claw in mid-June, bombing alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Turkey-PKK conflict has not only displaced several Christian communities but also severely impacted the livelihood of the civilians staying behind.

Christian villagers complain of serious economic tolls, as agriculture is burned during the airstrikes and tourists are prevented from utilizing the hospitality industry.

Turkey’s military operations against the PKK are seriously endangering the lives of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

The airstrikes are indiscriminate and target areas that are home to minority groups—not the PKK.

For many of these Christians, they are also struggling to recover from period of ISIS’s genocide against religious minorities.

Many see no difference between then and now, except that the main actor has changed.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (July 2020) Iraqi Christians Evacuate Following Turkish Airstrikes

Religious Rights Violations in China Worse than Reported


The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2020 report has once again put China as one of the top three countries of “particular concern.”

According to UCA News, Chinese Christian leaders echo that the space for religious freedom has severely shrunk in the past two decades, with the communist regime implementing a series of policies aiming to eradicate religion from society.

They also stressed that religious oppression in China is more severe than what is reported.

In provinces all over China, Christian schools, teachers, and business owners are forced to sign documents to reject their religion, or the government will retrieve their pensions. Local authorities had raided or seized hundreds of Christian house churches.

Cross removal continues to take place despite these churches’ official affiliation.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has also charged pastors with subversion of state power, although such sentencing is unconstitutional according to their own laws.

Many Catholic dioceses have been harassed by authorities, clergy are jailed for refusing to join the state-approved Catholic Church. There are also reports that CCP officials are offering cash rewards to incentivize spying and reporting on underground house churches.

While China denies these allegations, Father Thomas Wang told UCA News that China has never responded well to religious persecution accusations, the government either avoids them or evades the question altogether and accuses others of interfering with internal issues.

Maria Li in Guangdong also said China is no longer worried about international pressure and condemnation, as they have bribed small countries and organizations to defend China.

However, she hopes that the international community will not overlook China’s violations on religious freedom and human rights. “If more countries unite and put pressure on China, authorities will desist from blatant oppression, which will help the Church to breathe,” she said.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications at Coordinator: press@persecution.org

Persecution.org (May 2020) Religious Rights Violations in China Worse than Reported