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One in three Asian Christians face high level persecution after a “shocking increase” of religious-based threats and violence across the world, particularly in China and sub-Saharan Africa.  Around half of China’s 100 million Christians encounters persecution, “the worst it’s been in more than a decade”, following “new laws seeking to control religious expression”, says persecution watchdog Open Doors.  Persecution worldwide increased for the 6th straight year, with a total of 245 million Christians, one in nine worldwide facing high levels in 2018, up from 215 million, or one in 12, in 2017.  “Worldwide, 13.9% more Christians are experiencing persecution than last year.

More than 4,300 Christians worldwide were killed due to their beliefs last year, over 3,700 of them in Nigeria.  The number of deaths in Nigeria almost doubled, with attacks from the jihadist Boko Haram group and ethnic Fulani herders posing a “double threat” for Christians.  “Africa has become the home of violence against Christians,” said Michel Varton, president of Open Doors France.  North Korea topped the NGO’s “extreme persecution” ranking of 50 countries, as it has since 2002.  Open Doors said there were signs religious repression there was getting worse, but it was difficult to obtain data in the country, where “Christianity is forbidden”.

Following North Korea on the list are Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Iran, India and Syria.  India entered the top 10 for the first time, Open Doors said, as “Hindu extremists act with impunity and violent attacks on Christians and churches rise”.  “For many Christians in India, daily life is now full of fear, totally different from just four or five years ago,” said Blyth.  Open Doors warned that the rate of discrimination and violence was likely worse than it has reported, as it only records deaths proven to be to be motivated by religion.

Source: Agence France-Presse