Each year, Open Doors UK publishes a World Watch List of places around the world where it is the most dangerous to be a Christian. In these countries, Christian’s face detention, violence and abuse for their religion. The number one most dangerous country on the list is North Korea, which has held the top spot for 18 years.
However, the exact figure is unknown as Christians in North Korea must keep their faith completely secret.
An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in the secretive state are detained in labour camps, where torture and hard labour are commonplace.
One Christian told Open Doors UK: “One day the borders will open and we will unite with the South Korean and the Chinese church to bring the gospel to some of the darkest places on this earth.”
In Afghanistan, ranked second on the World Watch List, Christians also keep their faith a secret.
Should a Christian be discovered, Open Doors UK reports they: “may be sent to a mental hospital – their families believe no sane person would leave Islam.
“They may also be beaten or even killed by family members, or members of Islamic extremist groups like the Taliban.Read More: Grave-robbers steal crucifix and body of priest – ransom demanded
Christian persecution MAPPED: Violence against Christians is a growing problem
The top 11 most dangerous countries to be a Christian are:
- North Korea
These are all ranked as having extreme levels of persecution according to Open Doors UK.
Christian persecution MAPPED: South Korea has been the most dangerous place for 18 years
“This year many countries rose on the World Watch List, not because they turned more violent, but because of increased social, legal and structural oppression.”
Persecution of Christians is worsening, as the 2014 World Watch List had just one country – North Korea – ranking as extreme,
Now, in 2019 this figure has risen to 11 countries.
Henrietta Blyth of Open Doors UK said: “Our research uncovers a shocking increase in the persecution of Christians globally.Read More: Christianity crackdown: Worshippers ‘kicked like footballs’ by mob
“In China, our figures indicate persecution is the worst it’s been in more than a decade – alarmingly, some church leaders are saying it’s the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.
“Worldwide, our data reveals that 13.9 percent more Christians are experiencing high levels of persecution than last year. That’s 30 million more people.”
An increase in gender-specific persecution is also taking place, with Open Doors research showing the persecution of men tends to be “focused, severe and visible” and that of women is “complex, violent and hidden”.
Men are more likely to face detention without trial, or summary execution; while the persecution of women more typically involves sexual violence, rape or forced marriage.
The two places which see Christian’s suffer the most violence are Nigeria (ranked 12th) and Pakistan (ranked 5th).
Below is the map of countries according to the 2019 World Watch List.
Christian persecution MAPPED: The 2019 map of where is the most dangerous place to be a Christian
In Nigeria, there are 91 million Christians – which make up approximately 46 percent of the population.
The majority live in the south of the country, where their religious freedom is protected.
However, in the north of Nigeria and the ‘Middle Belt’, they face persecution.
Open Doors UK explains: “The militant group Boko Haram have abducted and killed those who refuse to conform to their extremist brand of Islam.
“Attacks by armed groups of Muslim Fulani herdsmen have resulted in the killing, maiming, dispossession and eviction of thousands of Christians.
Christian persecution MAPPED: Often Christian women are forced to marry outside of their religion
“Twelve of the northern states are under Sharia (Islamic law), and Christians in these states face discrimination.
“In some northern states, increasing numbers of Christians are dressing like Muslims to make their faith less obvious and reduce the chances of attack.
“Christian young people in these states are frequently denied access to higher education, and Christians have been asked to give up their faith in order to be given work.
“Christian women and girls are in danger of being abducted and forced to marry.
“When Christians are displaced by the violence in the region, they face discrimination when government aid is distributed because of their faith.”