For the tenth year running, North Korea topped the list. Open Doors reported
that Christianity has been driven so far underground in North Korea that
parents wait until their children are old enough to understand the dangers
of practicing their faith before teaching them about it. The organization
also estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians are currently
interned in labor camps.
“How the death of Kim Jong Il last month and the coming to power of his
son Kim Jong Un will affect the status of Christians in North Korea is hard
to determine at this early stage,” Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors
USA said in a statement.
The top five countries on the list also include Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia,
Somalia and Iran. The report indicated that changes of power have done
little to improve things for Christians in other parts of the world.
“At the beginning of last year, we were expecting some changes in the Arab
world and of course the political situation has changed,” Raymond Favre,
Open Doors’ representative for francophone countries said in an interview.
“But in terms of persecution, basically it is the same except in Egypt, where
the persecution of Christians has increased.”
The country where things have deteriorated most since the 2011 report is
Nigeria. At least 300 Christians were killed last year and sectarian
violence has intensified over recent weeks. On Christmas Day, more than 35
people were killed in bomb attacks on churches across the country.
Open Doors provides training for pastors and distributes Bibles in countries
where Christianity is suppressed, as well as advocating for political
change. It is active in over 50 countries and estimates that 100 million
Christians worldwide face persecution.