“It’s a wide-scale tragedy that many times we, as European Christians, underestimate.”
This is Erbil, in Iraq. It’s December 2014. A few months earlier, thousands of Christians had to flee their homes due to the Islamic State’s arrival in the Nineveh Plains. This procession is the first public manifestation of faith they’ve been able to show since then. For the occasion, Pope Francis sent them this video message.
This is the same moment, but in comic form.
These sketches are part of a new book created to show the suffering of Christians throughout the world in an understandable way. It’s entitled “Persecuted Christians. Today’s martyr for the cross.”
“The comic is not only for children. It’s a graphic expression that joins imagery and narration. Therefore, from this point of view, it’s more effective because it presents the focus more clearly and has the advantage of bringing together youth and adult, in other words, joining the target audiences with the same work.”
The gravity of the persecution Christians suffer for simply being themselves is not widely known. According to recent statistics, some 215 million Christians in 50 countries are marginalized, harassed, discriminated against or even killed.
“Perhaps we’ve grown more aware of Christians’ persecution since the Islamic State emerged, but we should have realized it before. FLASH It’s a tragedy, a phenomenon on a wide scale, that we as European Christians many times underestimate or don’t see.”
Christians were already victims of violence before jihadism in the Middle East, though. In the Indian state of Orissa in the summer of 2008, dozens of Hindu extremists murdered more than 100 Christians and destroyed 300 churches.
In Algeria in 1996, Islamic radicals kidnapped seven Trappist monks from the Tibhirine monastery and killed them. Their heads were found in a roadside ditch. The persecution of Christians spans the globe from one extreme to another and even includes places where it’s illegal to believe in God.
“The planet’s black hole for religious freedom is North Korea. Let’s remember that there’s not even a single priest there. Officially, there are no believers. If someone professes his or her faith or is suspected of doing so, they are sent to a concentration camp with others who have been suspected of professing their faith. The only option they have is to escape to China, another country where Christians are persecuted.”
Initiatives like these illustrated books remind us that heroes are not fantasy. Those who are willing to go as far as dying to defend their beliefs are true heroes in the flesh.