The Roman Colosseum will be lit up in red later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world.
On Saturday, February 24, at 6pm, the Colosseum will be floodlit in an event supported by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Prominent churches in Syria and Iraq will also be illuminated in red.
Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told Crux that the lighting of the Colosseum would have two symbolic figures: one is Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian initially condemned to death for blasphemy, and in jail awaiting a final decision; the other is Rebecca, a mother who was kidnapped and brutalised by Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist group.
Once Rebecca was freed, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said.
ACN released a report in October last year which described how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak”.
The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.
The anti-persecution group Open Doors, meanwhile, reported in January that in most countries of concern the persecution of Christians had been increasingly steadily for the last five years.
Christians in Egypt and Turkey, for instance, faced “unprecedented levels of persecution and suppression”.
“Across the Middle East the situation has deteriorated for Christians,” they reported. The situation has also worsened in Nepal, where in 2017 new laws criminalised religious conversion and brought in strict blasphemy rules.
According to Open Doors, North Korea remains the most dangerous country in the world for Christians; an estimated 70,000 Christians are believed to be in labour camps.