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'They Don't Even Leave You Alone Once You Die': Desecrated Graves Add Trauma to Persecuted Communities

Cairo Christian funeral

In countries around the world where Christians and other religious minorities face persecution, oftentimes they're not even left alone after they die.

"All your life you're persecuted because of your religious belief, because of your race, ethnicity, way of life, and then once you die they don't even leave you alone," explains Nury Turkel who serves as vice-chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

He says the cemetery is the last connection that religious minorities have to connect with their deceased relatives, and in many countries, even that basic freedom is not guaranteed despite clear international law to the contrary.

USCIRF recently published a fact sheet that details the worst offenders. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim graves are routinely desecrated around the globe.

And in China, where the communist government is committing genocide against Uighur Muslims, at least 100 Uighur cemeteries have been destroyed since 2018.

That includes the cemetery where Commissioner Turkel's maternal grandparents were buried.

"Some of them have been used for commercial purposes such as paved parking lots, public parks," he explains.

"It's hard to describe how traumatic and sad the circumstances these people, including my own, have gone through," he explains.

You can learn more about this tragic form of persecution from this USCIRF fact sheet.  And as always, remember to pray for the persecuted.

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