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Persecuted Christians: Updated Q&A with Documentarian Martin Himel

Martin Himel and Rabea Alos

Martin Himel (R) in Baghdad with Canadian Iraqi Community Leader and Activist Rabea Alos

Persecuted Christians premieres Wednesday, March 14 at 10pm ET / 7pm PT on VisionTV.

Scroll down to view sneak peeks of the documentary and a new excerpt from our interview with filmmaker and host, Martin Himel.

Freedom of religion: it’s a right that many of us enjoy to its fullest extent. However, in some parts of the world, the ability to practice one’s faith and beliefs can come with a dangerous and demoralizing price.

In particular, Christians suffer oppression and persecution in a number of world regions including parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. According to Open Doors, an international non-profit ministry that supports and strengthens persecuted Christians, a minimum of 100 million Christians worldwide face the possibilities of discrimination, interrogation, arrest, violence and death. To help target its efforts for awareness, Open Doors publishes a yearly World Watch List that ranks countries according to levels of persecution. While Communist North Korea tops the most recent list for the ninth consecutive year, eight of the top ten most dangerous countries for Christians are majority-Muslim. Iraq alone jumped up eight positions on the list after experiencing its worst year of Christian persecution since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In the powerful new documentary Persecuted Christians, award-winning filmmaker and accomplished foreign correspondent Martin Himel exposes and explores some of the atrocities and inhumanities that persecuted Christians are facing in Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan. Moving personal stories are told of a group of families who have suffered greatly for their faith. They’ve escaped oppression in their home countries to rebuild their lives in Canada, while often leaving behind loved ones who continue to be in danger. Martin and associates also travel to the Middle East to get a first hand look at where some of these devastating events have taken place and to meet with political officials about this ongoing situation.

In anticipation of the world premiere of Persecuted Christians on March 14, 2012 at 10pm ET, we spoke with Martin Himel via Skype about his discoveries and the impetus behind telling this important, world-affecting story. In this first interview excerpt, Martin discusses the current situation Christians face in the Middle East, his recent trip to Baghdad and the documentary’s central figure, Rev. Majed El Shafie.

Reverend Majed El Shafie and Canadian MP John Weston

Rev. Majed El Shafie and Canadian MP John Weston in Baghdad

MP John Weston, Rev. Majed El Shafie, Martin Himel, Senator Don Meredith

(L to R) MP John Weston, Rev. Majed El Shafie, Martin Himel and Canadian Senator Rev. Don Meredith in security training in Baghdad

Martin Himel at Baghdad's Hands of Victory Monument

Martin on location at Baghdad’s Hands of Victory Monument

Canadian MP John Weston, Senator Don Meredith, Rev. Majed El Shafie meet with Iraqi Minister of Human Rights Muhammad Al-Sudani

(L to R) MP John Weston, Senator Don Meredith, Rev. Majed El Shafie meet with Iraqi Minister of Human Rights Muhammad Al-Sudani

In this second interview excerpt, Martin Himel recounts a particularly brutal attack against Christians in Iraq in late 2010 and discusses how hope can still rise out of these kinds of tragedies.

In this third interview excerpt Martin discusses the current situation for the Christian community in Egypt, the struggles and resiliency of Iraqi Christians who have escaped persecution to come to Canada and the ultimate message of hope and survival that the documentary conveys.

In this excerpt we’re introduced to Rev. Majed El Shafie, an Egyptian Christian activist who was tortured for his beliefs and now devotes his life to helping other persecuted Christians.

In this excerpt we meet Rami and Christine, a Christian couple from Egypt who are rebuilding their lives in Canada after suffering torture and threats in their home country.

In this excerpt filmmaker Martin Himel is on location in Baghdad with Rev. Majed El Shafie, Canadian MP John Weston, Canadian Senator Rev. Don Meredith and Iraqi-Canadian community leader and activist Rabea Alos. The group is put through intense security training as they prepare to visit the Our Lady of Deliverance Church, scene of a devastating attack against Christians in October 2010.

In this excerpt we meet Raja Shara, whose niece Ragda was killed during an attack on Christian worshipers at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad in October 2010.

by Henry Lees

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