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The global persecution of Christians has reached unprecedented levels: “260 million Christians experience high levels of persecution” around the world, according to Open Doors, which each year ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted for their faith.  In addition, 2,983 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons.  On average, that’s 8 Christians killed every day for their faith.  9,488 churches or Christian buildings were attacked, and 3,711 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned.  North Korea (#1) remains the worst nation.  North Korean Christians are regularly deported to labour camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot.

Islamic oppression remains the chief source of persecution faced by Christians in seven of the absolute ten worst nations, but 38 of the 50 nations composing the list are either Muslim majority or have a sizeable Muslim population.  The targeting of Christians around the world has become more widespread than ever.  Part of this is because “persecution against Christians has taken a technological turn.” ….in India (#10) — where “Hindu radicals often attack Christians with little to no consequence the government plans to introduce a national facial recognition system.  Similarly, China (#23)….” according to Open Doors.

Perhaps the most disturbing trend is that the number of persecuted Christians continues to grow year after year.  Will this trend ever stop and reverse, or will it continue to get worse, and possibly even spill into those nations that, for now, enjoy religious freedom and equality?  The global persecution of Christians has reached unprecedented levels:  “The majority of the Islamic nations where persecution of Christians takes place are governed by some form of shari’a (Islamic law).  It is either directly enforced by government or society or, more frequently, both, though societies, family members in particular, tend to be more zealous in its application.

Brief summaries of the Muslim nations in the top ten follow: Afghanistan (#2) is “an Islamic society where Christianity exists in secret.”  Not only is it “illegal for an Afghan person to leave Islam,” but family members are often first to attack or kill them.  In Somalia (#3), “conversion to Christianity is regarded as a betrayal”; ” family members and clan leaders will harass, intimidate and even kill” converts.  Al Shabaab, “the youth,” an Islamic group, slaughters Christians “on the spot when discovered.”  In Libya (#4), “There is no freedom of speech, no equal treatment of Christians, no recognition of the church and no churches being built.”

Pakistan (#5) “is afflicted by numerous radical Islamic groups,” which “regularly target” churches.  More generally and in the eyes of both government and people, “Christians are regarded as second-class citizens.  Also, the country’s anti-blasphemy laws are disproportionately applied against the Christian minority, making it difficult and dangerous to live out one’s faith in public.”  In Sudan (#6), “the government has arrested or intimidated many Christian leaders, and numerous churches have been demolished.  Extremists have attacked Christians, especially in the Nuba Mountain region, where thousands of Christians have been killed or displaced.”

In Yemen (#7), civil “war has allowed radical Islamic groups to expand their operations in certain areas, leading to Christians being abducted and killed.  Open church activities are forbidden and leaving Islam is forbidden.  Muslims who decide to follow Jesus could face the death penalty.”  In Iran (#8), which “is governed by Islamic law,… the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.  It is illegal to produce Christian literature or hold church services in Farsi.  Converts from Islam face persecution from the government.”

Source: Gatestone Institute