Persecution World Watch List: North Korea Remains No. 1, Sharp Increases in Africa

( [email protected] ) Jan 11, 2013 06:12 AM EST

The number of African countries has sharply increased on the annual persecution world watch list due to increasing influence of Islam, states Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted Christians worldwide.

Mali, for example, has risen from unranked in 2011 to No. 7 in 2012. The other African countries under the influence of Islamic extremism include Tanzania (No. 24), Kenya (No. 40), Uganda (No. 47) and Niger (No. 50).

North Korea is still No. 1 when it comes to persecution of Christians. It topped Open Doors’ list for the 11th year in a row. In North Korea, possessing a Bible alone can be a reason for a Christian to be executed or sent to a prison camp along with three generations of his or her family. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians suffer in horrific prison camps.

“Nothing much has changed under new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un,” says Open Doors spokesman Jerry Dykstra. “In fact, persecution of Christians has increased.

Its neighboring country China has shown significant improvement over the years. Five years ago, the country was ranked in the Top 10, but now it has dropped from No. 21 to No. 37. The good news is house searches, arrests and the confiscation of Bibles and Christian books no longer occur on a large scale. However, the government forces many church leaders to keep an accounting for their whereabouts; a way to keep them subdued and under control. At least 100 Chinese Christians are still in prison.

The top 10 countries on Open Doors' 2012 World Watch List are: (1) North Korea; (2) Saudi Arabia; (3) Afghanistan; (4) Iraq; (5) Somalia; (6) Maldives; (7) Mali; (8) Iran; (9) Yemen, and (10) Eritrea.