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World News

The 10 worst countries to be a Christian

by Kelly Valencia

A Christian persecution watchdog has issued a warning about the increasing severity of global persecution, revealing that 365 million Christians currently experience ongoing discrimination due to their faith.

Open Doors published these findings in its annual assessment of countries where believers encounter the most extreme persecution and discrimination.

Here are the top ten nations where Christians are most under threat.

1. North Korea

Discovery, identification, or even perceived association with Christianity places individuals and their families at risk of deportation to labour camps as political criminals or immediate execution.

Open Doors estimates there are 400,00 Christians in North Korea, although reliable and precise data is hard to obtain.

2. Somalia

Open Doors estimates there are only a few hundred Christians.

Due to the harsh punishments, many believers decide to live their faith in secrecy. Islamic militants are increasingly targeting and eliminating Christian leaders. The mere suspicion of converting from Islam to Christianity can expose individuals to death.

3. Libya

The North African country is predominantly Muslim, with converts to Christianity paying the highest price for their faith.

Sharing the Gospel is highly forbidden. In March 2023, six Lybains were arrested for talking about Jesus and are now facing the death penalty.

4. Eritrea

Although particular churches have obtained official recognition, the pressure on Christians remains exceptionally high in every aspect of life within the country.

Converts from Islam face prison and many other stark realities such as torture, hunger and illness that, without treatment, often lead to death.

5. Yemen

Yemeni Christians experience religious freedom violations from their families, official authorities, including Houthi rebels in parts of the country, and radical Islamist groups.

Yemen's decade-long civil war has worsened the plight of believers, with relief aid predominantly distributed by local Muslim groups and mosques. They are accused of discriminating against those not considered devout Muslims.

6. Nigeria

More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country. Splinter groups from ISIS are driving most of the attacks against believers. 

Men and boys are targeted to prevent Christian families from growing. Women and girls may face abduction and sexual violence, and sometimes, their communities reject them upon their return.

7. Pakistan

Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, often used against minority groups, particularly affect Christians, who make up about a quarter of all blasphemy accusations.

Believers also face institutionalised discrimination, being often relegated to low-status occupations. Authorities often reserve these jobs for Christians, labelling them derogatorily as 'chura,' meaning 'filthy.'

8. Sudan

The recent violence in the country has put religious freedom under threat. At least 165 churches have been closed, and others have been destroyed.

Christians who converted from Muslim backgrounds face risks, with some even refraining from sharing Jesus with their children to avoid disclosing their faith to the local community.

9. Iran

Authorities see Christianity as a Western attempt to undermine the Islamic order.

Church leaders face severe punishments, often receiving lengthy prison sentences. Additionally, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is increasingly involved in conducting raids on house churches.

10. Afghanistan

Society has no space for religious freedom. If someone is discovered to be a Christian, they can be detained and tortured into giving information about fellow believers.

The return to power of the Taliban in 2021 means most of the Christians are living in faith secrecy while many others have managed to leave the country.

 

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