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Persecution of Christians on rise in Africa according to latest World Watch List; North Korea tops list as most severe

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Brother Andrew

SANTA ANA, Calif. (WordNews.org) Jan. 8, 2013 – Persecution of Christians is on the rise worldwide and North Korea is the top perpetrator, according to the latest Open Doors 2013 World Watch List.
The list tracks 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith, North Korea has topped that list for 11 straight years, while China continues to drop from being among the top 10 five years ago to No. 37 this year.
The purpose of the list is to help Christians know how to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide, said Paul Estabrooks, an Open Doors pastor. It is also aimed at helping governments put pressure on those on the list to stop the persecution.
Christians are persecuted in at least 60 countries for their faith, suffering interrogation, arrest and even death in some of the most dangerous and restrictive countries in the world. For 58 years Open Doors, founded by Brother Andrew, has supported and strengthened believers worldwide through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development and prayer and presence ministry.
Open Doors said the number of African countries considered hostile to Christians increased on the annual list because of the increasing influence of Islam. Open Doors is an organization that supports persecuted Christians worldwide.
Among the African countries making the list, Mali is a newcomer, ranked No. 7 position.
“Mali used to be a model country,” said Opens Doors spokesman Jerry Dykstra. “The situation in the north used to be a bit tense but Christians and even missionaries could be active. Currently the situation in northern Mali is somewhat similar to Saudi Arabia. Christians are simply no longer allowed to be there.”
Tanzania (No. 24), Kenya (No. 40), Uganda (47) and Niger (No. 50) also moved onto the list and Ethiopia is one of the strongest risers (from No. 38 to No. 15). In addition, the small African country of Eritrea made the Top 10 for the first time at No. 10. Libya climbed from No. 26 to No. 17.
In North Korea, described by Open Doors as a “hermit communist country,” just possessing a Bible is grounds for execution or imprisonment not just for the “offender” but three generations of family members. Open Doors said it is estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians suffer in horrific prison camps. The intense persecution has continued under new leader Kim Jong-Un. The number of defectors to China greatly decreased in 2012 and half of those who try to defect do not make it.
“Nothing much has changed under new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un,” Dykstra said. “In fact, persecution of Christians has increased. Reportedly one labor camp alone could hold up to 6,000 Christians.”
Apart from North Korea, the Top 10 on the World Watch List consists of eight countries where extreme Islam poses the largest threat for Christians. They are (from No. 2 to No. 9) Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran and Yemen. Worldwide, Open Doors reports an increase in the persecution of Christians.
Estabrooks, the Open Doors pastor, said the Arab Spring that may have promised possible hope in the Arab world has resulted in more persecution of Christians. It has been dubbed by some Christians as the Arab Winter. He said while there was a rise in a form of democracy in the Arab world, that democracy does not extend to minorities such as Christians.
“There’s no intention of providing protection for minority groups,” Estabrooks told WordNews.org.

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