Open Doors Watch List: "Persecution Of Christians Reaches Historic Levels, Conditions Suggest Worst Is Yet To Come"

From Open Doors:
While the year 2014 will go down in history for having the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era, current conditions suggest the worst is yet to come. On January 7, 2016, Open Doors released its annual World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous and difficult to be a Christian. This year, the threshold was higher for a country to make the list, indicating that worldwide levels of persecution have increased. Topping the 2015 list for the 13th consecutive year is North Korea. Africa saw the most rapid growth of persecution, while the Middle East saw targeted attacks, resulting in a mass exodus of Christians.  Open Doors records show that worldwide there were over 7,000 Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the year – almost 3,000 more than the previous year. (These are conservative estimates and exclude North Korea, Syria and Iraq, where accurate records do not exist.) Around 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged – over double the number for last year. In terms of violence against Christians and Christian property, Nigeria and Central African Republic top the list. And the world has watched aghast as millions of refugees risk the hazardous route to Europe from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Their number includes tens of thousands of Christians fleeing war and persecution. And all the time, beneath these 'headline' events, there is constant, low-level, localised persecution. Christians are driven out of their communities, refused burial, denied jobs or education. Churches are torn down because of local opposition or mob rule. For millions of Christians, the everyday persecution happens in their village, or even among their family. Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries on the 2015 World Watch List. While persecution can take many forms, Christians throughout the world risk imprisonment, torture, rape and even death as result of their faith. “Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination and violence,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith.”  Middle East
The Middle East remains one of the most violent areas of the world for Christians. Violence against Christians by the Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist groups increased in countries like Iraq (3) and Syria (4). More than 70 percent of Christians have fled Iraq since 2003, and more than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since the civil war began in 2011. Afghanistan (5) and Pakistan (8) have both increased in persecution. Africa
For the third year in a row, the majority of African nations on the World Watch List have increased in rank due to Islamic extremism. Kenya made the largest jump, moving up from number 43 to number 19. With no functioning government, Christian persecution remains severe in Somalia, which retained the No. 2 spot on the list. Both Sudan (6) and Eritrea (9) reentered the top 10 and Nigeria (10) appeared in the top 10 for the first time.  Asia
North Korea remains the most dangerous and difficult place to be a Christian. An estimated 70,000 Christians remain in prison for their faith. The conditions are also worsening for Christians throughout Asia. Countries such as Uzbekistan (15), Vietnam (16) and India (21) have all seen increases in persecution. Of particular note is India (21), where persecution is driven by Islamic extremism and Hindu fundamentalism. Persecution at a Glance
Christian persecution is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. Recent examples include imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, and loss of home and assets. While violent persecution is most often reported by media, nonviolent persecution is also on the rise. Violence has increased dramatically in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, but Christians in other countries are experiencing persecution in their personal lives through family, community and national spheres of life. Christians are often ostracized by family exclusion, the loss of a job or even rejection from a community. “The goal of the World Watch List is to keep Christian persecution on the radar of those enjoying the privileges of freedom,” said Curry.  “The perpetrators of persecution need to know that the world is watching and stands in opposition to persecution. And for the persecuted, we want them to know that they are not forgotten.” View World Watch List Report 2015 here. Read OpenDoorsUSA press release here. Read OpenDoorsUK press release here. Read OpenDoors press release in German here.