Open Doors USA has released its annual World Watch List,
identifying 60 countries where Christians increasingly face the
worst persecution on the globe.
Paul Estabrooks, a spokesman for Open Doors,
tells OneNewsNow the world has gotten more unsettled in the last
"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.
An American-Iranian pastor remains in jail in Iran on trumped up
charges. Though he faces an 8-year term in a violent prison, his
family members in Idaho are enduring the situation and remain
hopeful for positive news.