The number of Muslim converts to Christianity is rising in the Middle East according to a report from the Reuters news agency.
A community of Syrians who converted to Christianity from Islam is growing in Kobani, a town besieged by Islamic State for months, and where the tide turned against the militants four years ago, Emily Wither reports.
Much has changed in this Syrian town on the Turkish border. Once besieged by Islamic State the tide turned against the militants four years ago. However, their presence has had a curious effect on the local community with a group of Syrians converting from Islam to Christianity.
Islamic State hoped to destroy Christianity
This was one of the region’s minority faiths that Islamic State hoped to eradicate, but with the opening of the town’s first evangelical church last year their numbers are now growing in Kobani.
Maxim Ahmed lost an arm in an explosion in the town. He fled to Turkey for medical treatment and it was there he decided to convert from Islam. “I became a Christian there (Turkey). I’ve been a Christian for four years. It’s because of the guys (my friends) who were there with me every day that I became Christian. They showed me the ways of Jesus.”
Muslim converts to Christianity
Worshippers say the experience of war and the onslaught of a Sunni extremist group claiming to fight for Islam has pushed many people towards Christianity. The church’s pastor says many people had found a “new and loving” community amongst the congregation.
Most had become atheist or agnostic having lost their faith in religion and God during the war. But critics eye the new converts with suspicion. Accusing them of seeking personal gain such as financial help from Christian organizations working in the region. They also worry about future tension with Muslims in a country marred in recent years by sectarian and ethnic conflict. Charges denied by the Christians of Kobani.
This was not the lasting legacy Islamic State had planned as a persecuted minority flourishes in this tiny corner of the Middle East.
Children stand together inside a damaged house in Kobani
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