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World News

The 10 worst countries to live in as a Christian

by Kelly Valencia

Open Door’s annual list of countries ranking world countries according to the amount of violence against Christians has been released.

North Korea has returned to the top position after falling to second place in the last reporting period. Afghanistan topped the list in 2022.

The report said they are more than 360 million Christians persecuted for following Jesus across 76 countries – this number represents one in seven Christians worldwide.

Of that total figure, 312 million alone are in the 50 countries forming the list.

Here are the top ten.

1. North Korea

If you are discovered to be a Christian in this East Asian country, there are only two options for your future: a death sentence or life in a labour camp as a political criminal.

Open Doors estimates there are around 400,000 Christians in the country, with around 50,000 to 70,000 in labour camps for their faith.

2. Somalia

As a Muslim-majority country, most of the very few hundred Christians in the country are converts from Islam.

As a result, if someone is found out or even suspected to have converted, members of their family will harass, intimidate or even kill them. Young female converts to Christianity remain one of the most vulnerable populations in the country.

3. Yemen

Conversion to Christianity from Islam is forbidden by Yemeni law, meaning those suspected of conversion face death threats and community harassment.

As Yemen is facing one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world, Christians are also particularly vulnerable are relief is often deliberately neglected to anybody suspected of not being a devout Muslim.

4. Eritrea

Although almost half of the country’s population is Christian, believers face intrusive surveillance, raids on gatherings, and arrests.

Converts from Islam and the Eritrean Orthodox Church face harsh mistreatment and there are pastors who have been incarcerated for over a decade without trial. Open Doors estimates there are around 1,000 Christians jailed, with none formally charged.

5. Lybia  

The lack of central government means Christians have to live a secret life of faith or face expulsion from communities and lose their jobs.

Only nought-point-five per cent of Libya’s population is understood to be Christian, with the majority being expatriates and migrant workers.

6. Nigeria

Christian persecution in Nigeria is the most extreme in the region, with 89 per cent of the religiously motivated killings internationally happening in this country alone.

Groups like Boko Haram, Hausa-Fulani Muslim militant herdsmen, ISWAP (an affiliate of ISIS) and other Islamic extremist groups are constantly targeting Christian communities and places of worship as they want to eliminate the presence of Christianity in Nigeria.

7. Pakistan

If you are a Christian living in Pakistan, you are considered to be a second-class citizen, and you’d be expected to do the occupations seen as “low and dirty” by authorities.

The country’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, with many Islamic groups using it to attack and kill Jesus' followers.

8. Iran

Only 800,000 people are believed to follow Christianity in Iran.  

The persecution of Christians comes mainly from government authorities as they see Christianity as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islamic rule. House groups are often raided with leaders being arrested and jailed with long prison sentences for being a danger to national security.

9. Afghanistan

Following the Taliban take-over in 2021, many Christians were executed as the regime went door-to-door to eradicate Christianity.

Christians live a life of complete secrecy as leaving Islam is considered to be shameful – if found out to have converted, they either flee the country or face being put in a psychiatric hospital or being killed.

10. Sudan

Although the Sudanese government has pledged to move away from old repressive laws and policies, the lack of implementation and the communities’ perception of Christians not changing means believers are still facing extreme persecution.

Christian women and girls, mainly converts, are vulnerable to rape, forced marriage and domestic violence.

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