Christians and other religious minority groups in German migrant shelters suffer attacks from both Muslim refugees and Muslim staff of the migrant shelters, according to a survey released by a nonprofit organization.
Open Doors, together with Action on Behalf of Persecuted Christians (AVC), Central Council of Oriental Christians in Germany (ZOCD) and European Mission Society (EMC), conducted a survey from February 15 to September 30, 2016 investigating instances of persecution among Christians in German refugee camps scattered across different states.
The survey results showed that at least 743 Christian refugees have suffered from religiously motivated attacks from both Muslim refugees and Muslim refugee camp staff.
The attacks reportedly happened "several times" for most of the victims (83 percent); only 8 percent said they were attacked just once.
More than half (56 percent) of the 743 Christian refugees were beaten and violently assaulted, while 42 percent reported they or their family members were issued death threats by Muslim refugees and Muslim camp staff and volunteers.
The survey results also showed that sexual attacks happened to 44 of the Christian refugees affected by persecution.
While these numbers seem a lot, these are "most likely ... the tip of the iceberg in regard to the number of religiously motivated attacks on Christian refugees and other religious minorities," the report said, adding that more cases could have been documented if there were more staff to collect data. "It must be assumed that there is a high number of unreported cases."
In some cases, the staff of the refugee camp attempted to solve the problem by transferring the persecuted Christian refugees to another facility. The report said doing this only had short-term positive effects but failed to address the problem.
Pastor Gottfried Martens of the Berlin-based Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church oversees 1,000 Christian refugees. He said some of the victims had been "kicked out" of their accommodation to ensure "pleasant cohabitation" in the camps.
"Lately we are experiencing an increase in the banning of Christian asylum seekers because they are apparently disturbing the pleasant cohabitation in the refugee centres," Martens said. "The six Christians who were attacked in Tempelhof got kicked out of their accommodation by the security service just a few days after the incident. That is also one way to make sure the accommodation stays peaceful."
Christian converts from Islam faced the greatest risk of abuse, as leaving the Muslim faith is considered as a crime punishable by death according to the Quran. They are also subjected to harsh treatment by Muslim guards and interpreters in the refugee camps.
Martens said reporting the attacks to the authorities never resulted in a case being investigated; in every instance, the case gets dropped.
"There is not a single case in which Christian refugees in my church had been attacked and injured in their accommodation where the investigation was not dismissed in the end," he said. "In the end, each of the criminal charges only leads to further humiliation of the victims and a loss of confidence in the constitutional state."
The organizations that conducted the survey gave a number of recommendations to help solve the persecution problem in German refugee camps, including setting up preventive measures, merging religious minority groups so that their number equals that of Muslims in a facility and giving persecuted Christians a separate accommodation to avoid further abuse.
In May, Open Doors also released a report saying hundreds of Christian refugees are being persecuted in German asylum centers. These attacks are reportedly being covered up by the authorities, according to Gatestone Institute.