Research is based on the monitoring of fifty countries where Christians are believed to face the highest risk of persecution. Each country scores points based on various criteria such as news regarding single acts of violence, the daily repression experienced by the faithful through laws or acts of intimidation which prevent the exercise of religious freedom. Korea ranked top in the list of countries that are most hostile towards Christians for the twelfth year running. It is the only country where the persecution level is “absolute.” It is followed by another twelve countries where the persecution level is “extreme.” Topping this list is Somalia (which moved from fifth to second place), followed by Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
But ranking aside, what Open Doors was keen to draw attention to was the overall worsening of the situation of Christians in the world: twelve months ago, all fifty countries, put together, scored a total of 2,683 points. This year, this figure has shot to 3,019. In other words, it is as if the global situation has worsened by 12.5%.
Another clear trend that has emerged is Africa’s increasingly prominent presence on the persecution map: Somalia is not the only country that has seen a surge in violence. The Central African Republic, a country which, until last year, showed no signs of a need for monitoring, now ranks 16th in the list of countries where faith has the highest cost. The ongoing civil war has partly to do with this. Eighteen African countries feature in the Open Doors list of 50 countries where the risk of anti-Christian persecution is highest and there are 36 countries where Islamic radicalism is responsible for the persecution of Christians.
In the twelve months accounted for in the Open Doors World Watch List, 2,123 Christians were killed and 1,044 violent persecution cases were recorded. Not surprisingly, the highest number of victims was recorded in Syria (1,213), followed by Nigeria (612), while the highest number of violent attacks was recorded in Egypt (167 cases), followed by India (125) and Nigeria (118).
Open Doors draws attention to the fact that one of the fifty countries being monitored is Colombia. Colombia’s Christians are certainly not a minority but Open Doors has ranked them 25th in the list of countries where persecution is classified as “severe” because of the lootings and murders against those who oppose the rebel guerrillas and other criminal activities. Meanwhile, China comes 30th and has been included in the list of countries where persecution is “moderate.”