For the sixteenth consecutive year, North Korea has toped Open Doors USA‘s list of the fifty countries ranked for the worst persecution of Christians in the world.
Coming in at a close second is Afghanistan which increased by one place since the previous year. It should be noted that all of these countries that made the top ten of this list, with the exception of North Korea, are primarily Muslim in faith, and most are Middle East and Africa.
According to their website, the Open Doors list is a list compiled by a group of experts, and audited by organizations specializing in religious freedom. It has been deemed to be the most reliable list in terms of accuracy and trust-worthiness.
According to Open Doors USA’s CEO and President, David Curry, “Open Doors exists to support and to advocate for persecuted Christians where ever they may be in the world. We are asking that the world begin to use its power and its influence to push for justice, that we would use the list to direct us where justice is needed most in the world today.”
In his speech in Washington, Curry highlighted three trends they have identified as persecution against Christians:
- The rise of “rogue” agencies like the Islamic State group
- “Islamic extremism”
- Actions against people such as rape and forced marriage.
The countries that made this year’s top ten for the most Christian persecution are:
- North Korea with 94 points. Christians and Christian missionaries are routinely imprisoned in labor camps.
- Afghanistan with 93 points. The government of this Muslim country does not recognize any of citizens as Christian.
- Somalia with 91 points. The Catholic bishop of Mogadishu has described it as “not possible” to be a Christian in Somalia.
- Sudan with 87 points. The Muslim government has slated Christian churches for demolition.
- Pakistan with 86 points. Christians and other non-Muslims sit on death row convicted of charges of blasphemy.
- Eritrea with 86 points. Only four religions are officially recognized: Sunni Islam, Eritrean Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran. Faiths outside of this spectrum are persecuted and those of recognized faiths are routinely harassed by the government.
- Libya with 86 points. The government is reportedly training militants to attack Coptic Christians.
- Iraq with 86 points. Iraqi Christians haven’t returned to their homelands after expulsion by ISIS.
- Yemen with 85 points. The ongoing political and humanitarian crisis has further squeezed Christians and other religious minorities, who already faced severe restrictions on practicing their faiths.
- Iran with 85 points. Religious minorities, including Christians, face “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom,” according to the U.S. State Department.