Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity after managing to flee Islamic theocracies like Syria (1). Hundreds of refugees living in Lebanon have been baptized in the past year alone. It is also clear that converts to Christianity are far more likely to experience forms of persecution in the Middle East and are thus more eligible for asylum (2) (3).
Some of the motivation to convert is thanks to Christian charities who have been giving out food packages to many poor refugees. In one case, a refugee by the name of Ali lost his job and desperately needed a means to survive. A church just up the road generously offered him a bed, two hot meals a day as well as a small monthly allowance on the condition that he agreed to attend their weekly Bible study sessions. Ali agreed and found that “Almost everyone attending the classes was Muslim. Mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I’d never seen anything like it – Muslims singing about Jesus” (4). Him, and others, were later asked if they wanted to convert and he was baptized in April last year. He was even given a new Christian name, Abed al-Massih, which means Slave of Christ in Arabic.
However, Ali says that many Muslim refugees are deliberately converting to Christianity simply because Christian organizations are assisting them in their asylum applications, “A lot of people are doing it to get to Europe, the US and Canada. While I plan to stay in Lebanon, I know hundreds who been baptised just to help their applications. They would do anything to have security for their family.” Meanwhile the same story is unfolding in Germany (5). There are a few reasons suspected for these conversions in Germany. One is that Christianity is viewed as a religion of freedom which appeals to many Muslims who have experienced no such freedom at all. German priest, Matthias Linke, who is involved in the baptisms notes that “For many Iranians that I’ve baptised, Christianity is the religion of freedom” (6). These refugees come from a number of countries including Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea. The other cited reason is that conversion increases the chances of being granted asylum in Germany where Christianity is the dominant religion. Elsewhere back in Lebanon pastor Said Deeb at the Church of God also explains that many refugees are “begging me to help them become Christian. They think it will help them claim asylum abroad. They say ‘just baptise me, I will believe in whoever just to leave here.’” (7).
1. Ensor, J. 2017. The Muslim refugees converting to Christianity ‘to find safety.’ Available.
2. McGarry, P. 2014. Christians most persecuted and discriminated against worldwide. Available.
3. Vallely, P. 2014. Christians: The world’s most persecuted people. Available.
4. Ensor, J. 2017. Ibid.
5. Dearden, L. 2016. Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity in Germany. Available.
6. Dearden, L. 2016. Ibid.
7. Ensor, J. 2017. Ibid.