Open Doors, an international organization serving Christians in over 50 countries, conducts an annual survey of the religious freedom Christians have globally to live out their faith in their personal lives, families, communities, congregations, and national life.
"Islamism has risen in every country that experienced the Arab Spring," said Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Open Doors Chief Strategy Officer. "This has resulted in massively increased pressure on large parts of the church in the Middle East and North Africa."
"Foreign jihadists now terrorize Christians in war-torn Syria, al‐Qaeda militants occupy northern Mali to make life impossible for local Christians, and even in countries like Libya that made a transition to a form of democracy, radical Islamist factions spread terror with impunity among the Christian minority."
The top ten countries where Christians face the most persecution are:
1. North Korea
2. Saudi Arabia
Observations by Open Doors
- The persecution of Christians has increased worldwide in 2012
- North Korea has held the number one spot as the country with the most persecution of Christians for the last 11 years the survey has been taken. A person having a Bible may face execution or be imprisoned with several generations of his family
- Islamic extremism poses the largest threat for Christians in eight of the countries on the list: Saudi Arabia; Afghanistan; Iraq; Somalia; Maldives; Mali; Iran; and Yemen
- Persecution has dramatically increased in Africa. Mali has hit the top ten, and Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Niger are now on the list
- Extremist expressions of Islam have rapidly gained influence across the Africa. Terrorist organizations such as the Boko Haram in Nigeria have focused attacks on Christians, and persecution has increased in Ethiopia
- Islam is influencing social and economic areas in Muslim countries. Mali typifies this trend, escalating in violence after a coup in March. "Mali used to be a model country," says Eddie Lyle, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland. "The situation in the north was tense, but Christians and even missionaries could be active. Following the coup Christians have effectively been become ‘persona non grata' and can no longer exist in northern states of the country"
- Niger responded with violence against Christians in response to an anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims
- For many years, Christians were able to worship freely in Syria but could not evangelize under President Assad's regime. Now Syrians fighting against the government, forces loyal to the President, and anti-Christian jihadists entering Syria make life impossible for Christians, causing tens of thousands of Christians to flee the country in the last few months
- Except for North Korea, the Communist states in the far east: Laos, Vietnam and China, have marginally improved their treatment of Christians.