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Intolerance against Christians is highest in Central and Southeast Asia, after North Korea. The situation worsens dramatically in Africa. In Europe, two people were murdered bacause of their faith last year.
Open Doors has released its World Watch List 2018 today. The report analyses the data collected in 2017, a year in which, according to the organisation serving Persecuted Christians worldwide, violence against Christians has increased significantly.
Right now, one in 12 Christians live where Christianity is illegal, forbidden, or punished, the organisation says.
Last year's list showed a reduction of documented killings, down to 1.207 in 2016. One year later, this figure grew again to 3.066 cases.
“The cause for this change is that the extremist branch of Islam is mobilising groups especially in Africa”, Ted Blake, Director of Open Doors in Spain, told Protestante Digital. “Their aim is to convert the whole continent to Islam, and this involves violence but also other strategies of oppression”. Some of these other factors include changes in legislation and internal armed conflicts.
THE WORST PLACES FOR CHRISTIANS TO LIVE
The World Watch List 2018 continues to have on its top many of the countries that have been cruellest in their persecution in years before.
North Korea is, again, the most inhospitable place for Christians in the world, although Open Doors makes it clear that it is very difficult to get specific data about the situation in the country due to the autarchy imposes.
Afghanistan continues to be number two, followed by Somalia. Both countries have suffered grave terrorist attacks in the last months.
Fourth and fifth are Sudan and Pakistan.
PERECUTION INTENSIFIES IN ASIA
Persecution has become chronic in Central and Southeast Asia, especially in the case of India. In last years’ list, the second most populated country in the world was in the 15th position, now it has moved to place 11. According to Open Doors, it is the place where more arrests and detentions without trial have been reported by Christians in 2017, a total number of 635.
India is also the second Asian state where most attacks against Christian worship places have been registered, 34 - only behind Pakistan, with a shocking 168.
These figures are mainly tied to aggressions of fundamentalist Hindu groups.
ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST
The case of Middle East is special because no country of the region appears in the Open Doors categories that have to do with assassinations, arrests and attacks against churches. But three countries are still among the ten with the highest persecution index: Iraq, Iran and Yemen. The rest of the countries, except for Israel, are also among the fifty worst countries for a Christian to live.
In Israel, four attacks against Christian worship places were reported (three more than in the Palestinian Territories) which added to four other cases of physical and psychological abuse.
MOST CHRISTIANS ARE MURDERED IN AFRICA
It is in Africa where the worst deterioration of religious tolerance has been seen. The first five countries in number of killings of Christians are in this continent.
The situation is very dramatic in Nigeria, where 2,000 Christians have been killed in 2017.
But also in Egypt, a country with a long Coptic Christian tradition, has witnessed the murder of 128 people.
In places where persecution is not for social or political reasons, Christians also die. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 136 Christians have been killed, and 100 more in Cameroon.
VIOLENCE IN EUROPE
The Open Doors World Watch List also reports about two cases of murder of Christians in Europe, specifically in Germany. Blake believes these cases are a consequence of the bad management European countries are doing of the diverse sensitivities and potential conflicts that can raise among the hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians arriving to Europe in seeking for refuge and help. “Those in charge of reception centres often do not understand the religious differences between the countries of origin, and have no experience in matters of religion”, he analyses.
In addition, says Blake, “radical secularism” is on the rise in Europe. This would explain why 42 attacks against Christian worship places have been reported in France, and 30 more in Spain.
THE WORST COUNTRIES
The top ten where Christians currently face the most persecution are (in brackets, perseuction index):
1. North Korea (94/100)
2. Afghanistan (93/100)
3. Somalia (91/100)
4. Sudan (87/100)
5. Pakistan (86/100)
6. Eritrea (86/100)
7. Libya (86/100)
8. Iraq (86/100)
9. Yemen (85/100)
10. Iran (85/100)
Read more about the World Watch List 2018 by visiting the Open Doors International website.