The oppression of Christians elevated throughout Covid-19

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(Photo: Release International)

Oppression and discrimination against Christians only got worse during the pandemic, Release International says.

The charity that supports persecuted Christians said many had been denied food and relief aid by governments and NGOs because of their beliefs.

Some countries have escalated their crackdown on Christians.

Such is the case in China, where Christians have reportedly been arrested for meeting online to worship and pray during the lockdown.

According to release partners in China, the authorities have "completely banned" online church services and prayer meetings.

"Nothing that is a service is allowed," they said.

They believe the Chinese government is using Covid-19 to step up long-term crackdown on Christians.

"They have accelerated campaigns like the forced demolition of crosses even against government-sanctioned churches," the partners said.

"Pastors were rounded up to share the gospel and hand out face masks on the street."

In many countries, Christians experienced crippling poverty during the pandemic.

There is no social security or government support in Algeria, so many Christians have difficulty getting through.

A release partner in Algeria said: "Many Christian families had to stop working and lost their income because of the lockdown. They have been rejected by society and their families because of their beliefs. The demand is enormous."

In Pakistan, the situation for converts with a Muslim background was particularly difficult as the only form of financial support comes from families. Muslim families often withdraw that support from family members who convert to another belief, Release said.

"These people have been rejected by society and their families because of their beliefs," said Release's Pakistani partners.

Just buying groceries and paying rent has become a major challenge for many impoverished Christians, let alone buying face masks and hand sanitizer.

"The government is unable to support Christians in the villages, slums or brick kilns," the partners said.

In Upper Egypt, it was reported that aid-distributing organizations refused to eat or support Christians.

Report partners report: "The authorities are helping Muslims, but not Christians. And churches that try to help are closed by police orders."

Release partners distribute aid packages to Christians in Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

It launched an appeal to support more Christians during Covid-19.

Paul Robinson, CEO of Release International, said, "Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on the lives of many poor Christians. In places hostile to the faith, Christians are facing increasing difficulties.

"Food is now in short supply. They cannot work or earn, and support is withheld because of their beliefs.

"Your calls for help are being ignored by local charities who only hand out food packages to families of other faiths. We cannot afford to hesitate. These Christians need our help."

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