Monday, April 30, 2012

Top 50 Countries on Watch List for Persecution of Christians

From the folks at Open Doors who watch those who persecute Christians.... And to think some of us are under the mistaken idea that persecution and martyrdom is no longer a threat to Christians!

 1. North Korea

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea tops the World Watch List yet again as the worst country in the world in which to live as a Christian. Continue reading

2. Afghanistan

All Afghan Christians come from a Muslim background. Believers who are discovered face discrimination from family and community, Muslim clergy and local authorities. The government treats converts in a hostile manner, using any means possible to make them recant. The … Continue reading

3. Saudi Arabia

There is no freedom of religion here. The legal system is based on Islamic law and conversion to another religion is punishable by death if the accused does not recant. Non-Muslim public worship is prohibited, and although the government recognizes … Continue reading

4. Somalia

No one is expected to be a Christian in Somalia, so there is no organized church. Muslim converts exist as individual secret believers, and can only know a few others to make a small underground group. The largest known group … Continue reading

5. Iran

 85 24

Ethnic Persians are by definition Muslim, so ethnic Christian converts are considered apostates. Almost all Christian activity is illegal – from evangelism to Bible training to publishing Christian books. Many church services are monitored by the secret police. The governor of … Continue reading

6. Maldives

Every citizen has to be Muslim on these remote islands. The Maldivian government views itself as the protector and defender of Islam and enjoys full support by its citizens. Churches are forbidden, evangelism is banned and the import of Christian … Continue reading

7. Uzbekistan

The strict monitoring of all Christian activities has intensified, even in the Orthodox Church. Outreach, training and youth activities are forbidden in unregistered churches – and in the last ten years only one new church was granted registration. Private Bible … Continue reading

8. Yemen

Islam is the state religion and source of legislation. The few hundred Christians from a Muslim background meet secretly as they face persecution from authorities, family and extremist Islamic groups. In the north, no church buildings are allowed. There is … Continue reading

9. Iraq

Sectarian violence caused tens of thousands of Christians to leave the country in 2011. Christians feel that the government fails to protect them, with individuals being threatened, robbed, raped or kidnapped and churches being bombed. Iraq’s constitution says each individual … Continue reading

10. Pakistan

Christians are a beleaguered minority caught between Islamic militant organizations that routinely target them for violence and an Islamic culture that discriminates against them. Death threats are routine for church leaders, beatings are common, and damage to church property occurs … Continue reading

11. Eritrea

 131 24

All evangelical churches were closed following the government’s ban on all religious groups other than state-approved Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran or Islamic groups in 2002. Anyone discovered to be an evangelical is tortured and forced to revert to the registered denominations. … Continue reading

12. Laos

 101 14

The government exercises tight control on all parts of society. Small independent congregations are under pressure and have been refused recognition. Local authorities regard them as enemies; Buddhist leaders and village shamans also watch them closely. Most believers are ethnic … Continue reading

13. Northern Nigeria

Persecution of Christians is driven by Islamic extremists. In the Sharia states of the north,there have been many attacks on churches and Christian communities in which believers were wounded or killed. In the last year, an estimated total of 1,000 … Continue reading

14. Mauritania

Isolated from the rest of the world because of its mainly desert landscape and because it is ruled by an oppressive regime, Mauritania is very proud to officially be a pure Muslim country. The constitution does not include any provisions … Continue reading

15. Egypt

Since the revolution of January 2011, levels of violence against Christians have increased. Salafi Muslim attacks on churches led to the massacre at Maspero where the military did nothing to protect Christians and even participated in the killings. In rural … Continue reading

16. Sudan

Religious freedom is severely restricted by government and society. Islamic groups, wanting to form an Islamic state, persecute the church. Conversion is not recognized: believers from a Muslim background are treated as if they are Muslims. Following South Sudan’s secession … Continue reading

17. Bhutan

 9 3

As the country moves from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy, the situation is likely to change for believers. The church in Bhutan is no longer an underground church, since Christians are allowed to meet in private homes without any … Continue reading

18. Turkmenistan

 13 2

All unregistered religious activity is strictly illegal here and obtaining church registration can be difficult, if not impossible. Police and the secret services monitor Christian activities. This strict surveillance makes it difficult for churches to teach the gospel. The local … Continue reading

19. Vietnam

The authorities keep a close eye on all Christian activities in the country. Church leaders are closely monitored and Christians are routinely questioned by security police, especially when they witness to others. In tribal areas, village and religious leaders report … Continue reading

20. Chechnya

Still formally a part of the Russian Federation, Chechnya remains one of the most difficult places for Christians in Russia. Persecution is political as well as religious, since Christianity is associated with Russia, with whom they had civil war. The … Continue reading

21. China

Christianity continues to grow rapidly. Sources report that government representatives have been in dialogue with some house church leaders, leading many to believe the government has finally understood the house church is not a political threat to the state. Yet … Continue reading

22. Qatar


Nearly all Qataris are Muslims and most Christians in the country are foreign workers. The constitution protects religious freedom, but expat Christians can usually only meet in assigned compounds. During 2011, several foreign workers were deported for their Christian activities. … Continue reading

23. Algeria

Protests against the regime in January 2011 left five dead and over 800 injured, but the government remains in control. The church, mostly first-generation believers from a Muslim background, faces many forms of discrimination. There were reports of churches being … Continue reading

24. Comoros

Persecution on these islands comes mainly from the indigenous Muslim community, although government restraints remain tight. A referendum passed in 2009 installed Islam as the state religion and seriously restricted religious freedom. Only expats are allowed to operate churches. Converts … Continue reading

25. Azerbaijan

The government of this officially secular state has a negative attitude towards any form of religion. However, the population is mainly Muslim and the influence of traditional Islam is growing in some regions. All religious groups were required to renew … Continue reading

26. Libya

Under Gaddafi’s despotic rule, the situation for Christians was already extremely harsh. The secret police restricted church activities and evangelism was criminalized. But after the civil war that led to Gaddafi’s death, the future could be even worse for the … Continue reading

27. Oman

Almost the entire population of Christians are expatriates. The constitution protects freedom of religion, but legislation is based on Islamic law and all religious organizations must register. Foreign Christians are allowed to worship in private homes or work compounds, but … Continue reading

28. Brunei

About two-thirds of the people in this tiny Islamic nation are ethnic Malays. Although in theory all other religions may be practiced in peace, in practice only non-Malays are allowed to choose their faith. If a Malay converts, this ‘disturbs … Continue reading

29. Morocco

Protests inspired by the Arab Spring forced the king to adopt a number of political reforms in 2011. The moderate Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) won a huge victory in parliamentary elections at the end of 2011 and, based … Continue reading

30. Kuwait

The constitution protects freedom of belief, but the government restricts this in practice. Conversion from Islam to other religions is not permitted and the government actively supports proselytism by Sunni Muslims. There are only a few hundred Kuwaiti believers; most … Continue reading

31. Turkey

Although Turkey is a secular state, government restrictions, social hostilities and nationalism are key sources of persecution, causing discrimination, hate crimes and unfair judicial treatments. Muslims who convert to Christianity risk losing their jobs and being disinherited by their family. … Continue reading

32. India

While most Indian Christians are relatively free, many parts of the country remain key battlegrounds between Hindu extremists and Christians. Persecution is largely due to the amazing growth of Christianity among the low castes and Dalits, which threatens Hindu leaders. … Continue reading

33. Burma (Myanmar)

Burma transitioned to a new, semi-civilian government in March, stirring hopes for significant change, including the re-admission of Aung San Suu Kyi into the political arena. A new Human Rights Commission was established in September, with minorities represented on it. It remains to … Continue reading

34. Tajikistan

New legal restrictions introduced in 2011 are likely to increase pressure on the church. In August, a new Parental Responsibility Law was introduced which prohibits children under the age of 18 from participating in any religious activities except funerals. Although … Continue reading

35. Tunisia

Home of the Jasmine revolution which gave rise to the Arab Spring, Tunisia is the country where democratic transition seems to have the greatest chance of success. However, elections in October were won by the Islamic Ennahda party, which has already … Continue reading

36. Syria

Months of anti-government protests have left Syria on the verge of civil war. Under the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad, Christians had relative freedom to worship, although Christian meetings were monitored by the secret police and evangelism was discouraged. Since … Continue reading

37. United Arab Emirates

As one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, the constitution provides for religious freedom although the law denies Muslims the freedom to change religion. Society’s attitude towards Christianity is hostile and the government places restrictions on Christians, who … Continue reading

38. Ethiopia

Evangelical churches face some opposition from the Orthodox Church, which sees the fast growth of the Protestant Church as a threat. However, the main source of persecution is Islamic extremism, much of which is fuelled by external sources. The unprecedented … Continue reading

39. Djibouti

 0 3

Although Islam is the state religion, the constitution protects religious freedom and the government generally enforces these protections. It seems that family and local community are more active drivers of persecution than the government. The small Christian community consists mostly … Continue reading

40. Jordan

 16 1

As one of the most Western-orientated countries in the Middle East, traditional Christians experience some religious freedom. However, leaving Islam is prohibited and Muslims who become Christians often face legal discrimination, abuse from family and community, and difficulty getting and … Continue reading

41. Cuba

One of the few remaining Communist regimes, Cuba continues to isolate itself from the rest of the world. The totalitarian regime allows no competitors of any kind. Religious groups complain about widespread surveillance and infiltration by state security agents. Pastors … Continue reading

42. Belarus

Often considered the last surviving dictatorship in Europe, the government allows almost no political opposition. The Orthodox Church is the only officially recognized denomination. Unregistered religious activity can result in imprisonment or heavy fines. Unregistered churches are monitored by the … Continue reading

43. Indonesia

The church is facing increasing hostility. Though the national authorities try to look neutral, in reality they are eager to win support from Muslim parties. Muslim extremist groups continue to grow more violent towards Christians and are experiencing no resistance … Continue reading

44. Palestinian Territories

The decline in the number of Palestinian believers is accelerating. Many have emigrated because of the increasing influence of Islam, as well as political and economic factors. Indigenous Christians have the right to practice their religion, providing they don’t try … Continue reading

45. Kazakhstan

In September 2011, two laws were passed by parliament that imposed further restrictions on religious rights. The laws, which require the re-registration of all religious communities, seem to be aimed at curtailing extremist Islam, but unregistered Christian churches come under … Continue reading

46. Bahrain

As, one of the most liberal countries on the Arabian Peninsula, a considerable number of expat Christians live here and are relatively free to practice their faith in private. However, society is not tolerant towards converts from Islam to other … Continue reading

47. Colombia

Large areas of the country are under the control of drug cartels and paramilitary groups. Most Christian persecution comes from the alliances that exist between non-Christian indigenous population and paramilitaries, who view Christians who openly oppose their activities as a … Continue reading

48. Kyrgyzstan

The country’s first free and fair elections in October 2011 gave Kyrgyzstan the opportunity to grant minorities a legal standing. However, Christians face ongoing discrimination from society in general and the government’s disregard for believers’ freedom continues. The strict laws … Continue reading

49. Bangladesh

In June 2011, the government decided to retain Islam as the state religion. Amendments to the constitution are being proposed which seek to restore certain aspects of secularism, but for the Christian minority, little change is expected. In general, believers … Continue reading

50. Malaysia

Freedom for Christians is deteriorating. Malay believers face increasing hostility from the government and Islamic fundamentalists, while established churches are under threat. Malaysian law restricts conversion of Malay Muslims to other religions. In five states, it is a criminal offence … Continue reading


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

We can see this list and be afraid. Afraid for our brothers and sisters in christ, and what this world will come to. But instead, we should remember that our God is bigger than this situation, and He WILL win this battle. No doubt. The question that should be on our lips, is, 'what are we going to do about this?'
If you want to do something about this, ask God. Don't rely on your own understanding. Because only through God can you make a change. You can make a BIG change.

Unknown said...

Amen God is bigger and he will prevail.