Persecution on the rise

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Charlie Butts (

Open Doors USA has released its annual World Watch List, identifying 60 countries where Christians increasingly face the worst persecution on the globe.

Estabrooks, Paul (Open Doors)Paul Estabrooks, a spokesman for Open Doors, tells OneNewsNow the world has gotten more unsettled in the last year.

"The rise in Islamism in, first of all, every country that experienced the 'Arab Spring' -- That's been the challenge there for those Christians who had tremendous optimism of possible relief from persecution through a kind of democratic process," Estabrooks explains. "But, of course, their democracy concepts do not include protection of minorities."

Iraq and Afghanistan, where American troops fought, are included in that category.

Several African countries have risen on the World Watch List because of Muslim persecution of Christians, including through terrorist acts. Mali, for example, moved to the number-seven spot because of a coup in the North by Muslims trying to establish that as an independent country.

"This is an area where missionaries have worked for years," the Open Doors spokesman notes. "There are a significant number of believers there, but now, all of them have been driven out of the northern part of Mali to either neighboring countries or to the South, where their future is very tentative."

Topping the list for the 11th year is North Korea, where even possession of a Bible can lead to the death penalty or imprisonment. Severe persecution of Christians has not eased under new leader, Kim Jong Un. Saudi Arabia is a distant second.

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