1. North Korea – Asia
North Korea is a brutally hostile place for Christians. If discovered by authorities, believers are sent to labour camps, where the conditions are atrocious, or killed on the spot—their families share their fate. Christianity is seen as a particular threat to the dictatorial ideology and governance of the barbaric regime. Christians are viewed as enemies of both the leadership and society in general.
2. Somalia – Africa
Somalia is a majority Muslim nation and society expects all Somalis to be Muslim. The violent insurgent group al Shabaab has repeatedly expressed its desire to eradicate Christians from the country. Christians from Muslim backgrounds are regarded as high-value targets and may be killed on the spot if discovered. In a population of 16 million people it is estimated there are only hundreds of Christians there.
3. Yemen – Middle East
It is extremely dangerous to be a Christian in Yemen, due to the country’s strict Islamic laws and the presence of Islamic extremist groups. Most believers from a Muslim background choose to practise their faith covertly. They cannot gather for fear that neighbours will report them to the local authorities. Displaying Christian symbols could lead to imprisonment, physical abuse or even execution.
4. Eritrea – Africa
For 20 years, Eritrea has only recognised three official Christian denominations—Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran—that it closely monitors. The authorities perpetuate a stigma against believers and encourage neighbours to spy and report on each other. There are thought to be 1000 Christians indefinitely detained in Eritrean prisons, not officially charged with anything. Christians as young as 14 are conscripted into the armed forces to fight in Tigray. Christian prisoners are often ”released” into military service instead of being allowed home.
5. Libya – North Africa
Libya is effectively a lawless land where both native Christians and those passing through from other countries face extreme violence. With no central government, Islamic extremist groups and organised crime groups wield power. They target and kidnap Christians. Some believers have been killed.
6. Nigeria – Africa
Violence remains the most prevalent threat in Nigeria. Although almost half of the 200 million population are Christians, they are often attacked indiscriminately and brutally in northern Nigeria, and violence has now spread to the south. Groups like Boko Haram and Fulani extremists inflict murder, physical injury, abduction and sexual violence on their victims.
7. Pakistan – Asia
Christians in Pakistan are considered second-class citizens. Jobs that are seen as low, dirty, and degrading are reserved for Christians by the authorities, who continue to push them to the margins of society. Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws target all minorities, but affect Christians in particular—roughly a quarter of all blasphemy accusations target Christians (only 1.8 per cent of the population).
8. Iran – Middle East
Iran is ruled by an increasingly strict Islamic regime, which views the existence of Iranian house churches as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and their authority. State surveillance is on the rise and the authorities are exerting an increasing grip on daily life and activities.
9. Afghanistan – Asia
The Taliban’s takeover of power has forced most Christians either further underground or away from the country entirely. Many (if not all) house groups closed, with believers forced to leave behind everything they own. Following Jesus remains a death sentence, if discovered.
10. Sudan – Africa
Persecution of Christians remains at a high level, and there are fears this will worsen amid ongoing unrest. After Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, Sudan’s transitional government introduced exciting changes guaranteeing basic human rights for all, no matter their religion. However, mass protests led to the resignation of the then prime minister in January 2022, and there are fears that Sudan will return to the authoritarian years of the former president.
Each year, Open Doors conducts research to assess persecution levels of Christians throughout the world. This information is taken from their World Watch list opendoors.org.au/.