North Korea is, once again, on top of the list of nations where persecution against Christians is the worst.
Persecution watchdog group Open Doors has recently published the 2017 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 most dangerous nations for Christians. North Korea has held the top rank in the list for 15 consecutive years.
The country has reportedly imprisoned and executed Christians for simply owning a Bible. The regime has also forced its citizens to accept the divinity of the family of its leader, Kim Jong-un.
Christians in the regime have to keep their faith a secret, even from their own children to keep them from unintentionally revealing it to others.
Second on the list is Somalia which jumped from seventh place last year. The reports about persecution in Somalia are limited, but Open Doors USA CEO David Curry said that the country does not allow any organized church, and every citizen is registered as a Muslim despite their beliefs.
He added that Christians can be executed without trial if their faith is discovered.
Other countries that have seen a rise in Christian persecution include India, Yemen, Bangladesh and Laos.
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India, which was in 31st place in 2013, has risen to 15th place this year.
“This year there is a clear pattern of rising religious intolerance across the Indian sub-continent which affects many millions of Christians,” said Lisa Pearce, CEO Of Open Doors UK & Ireland, according to Christian Today.
“Religious nationalists attempt to forcibly convert people to the dominant faith of their nation, often turning to violence when community discrimination and non-violent oppression do not succeed in imposing their religious beliefs on minority Christians. These Christians are often from the lower castes, such as the Dalits in India who face huge socio-economic problems – they are an easy target for extreme nationalists,” she added.
Islamic extremism is still the most common cause of oppression toward Christians. It has seen a sharp increase in Africa where more people have been killed for their beliefs than anywhere else in the world.
Open Doors noted that both Syria and Iraq have dropped in their rankings because many Christians have fled the region to avoid persecution from the Islamic State.