This week Open Doors USA released its annual World Watch List (WWL) at an event at the National Press Club. This year’s WWL, which ranks the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians, once again placed North Korea at the top of the list. The report states:
In this totalitarian communist state, Christians are forced to hide their faith completely from government authorities, neighbors and often, even their own spouses and children. Due to ever-present surveillance, many pray with eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed.
Open Doors declared, “Islamic extremism remains the global dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 out of the 50 countries on the list.” Particularly looking at the Middle East, the report ranks Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen in the top 10 countries with the most Christian persecution. In fact, all Middle Eastern countries are in the top 50 except Israel and Lebanon.
The WWL also highlights a serious rise in persecution in Asia, particularly South and Southeast Asia. Pakistan, which had the most violence, rose to number 4 on the WWL, and India sadly moved to its highest-ever spot at number 15. Open Doors pointed to attacks by Hindu nationalists, observing, “An average of 40 incidents were reported per month, including pastors beaten, churches burned and Christians harassed. Eight Christians were killed for their faith, a staggering increase for this country. Of the 64 million Christians in India, approximately 39 million experience direct persecution.”
In the Western Hemisphere, Mexico was ranked at 41 and Colombia at 50, where organized crime is a culprit. Notably, Open Doors said, “Hitting closer to home, 23 Christian leaders in Mexico and 4 in Colombia were killed specifically for their faith.”
Altogether, Open Doors estimates 215 million Christians across the globe face high levels of persecution.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: January 13, 2017