More than 360m Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith. In the World Watch List top 50 alone, 312m Christians face very high or extreme levels.
That is 1 in 7 worldwide; 1 in 5 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 15 in Latin America.
Open Doors’ mission is to ensure that persecuted Christians do not suffer alone – but are connected to the worldwide church for support and encouragement.
This overview of persecution trends gives some insight into the experience of Christians who follow Jesus no matter the cost.
Persecution of Christians has reached the highest levels since the World Watch List began nearly 30 years ago.
Every country in the top 50 is ranked as experiencing ‘very high’ or ‘extreme’ levels of persecution. Outside of the top 50, an additional 26 countries are categorised as having ‘very high’ or ‘high’ levels of persecution. The severity of persecution in countries on the list, demonstrated by the total points scored, has increased by more than 20% since 2014. This signifies an increased pressure in all areas of life for persecuted Christians.
Jihadism is expanding at an alarming rate.
The Taliban’s takeover of government in Afghanistan gave jihadists globally a profound psychological boost. In neighbouring Pakistan, the Taliban there was strengthened as Islamist groups celebrated. It signals a new impunity for Jihadist movements from Africa to Asia. This development is likely to encourage extremism in the Middle East, giving a boost to groups like Islamic State, Al Qaeda, throughout the region.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to see the most violence against Christians.
Nigeria’s rise by two places in the top 10, is just one sign of the rising tide of Jihadist violence in the region. Colleges, schools, churches, villages and community leaders continue to be targeted for kidnappings, killings, injuries and destruction of livestock and livelihoods especially by Fulani militants, as well as known jihadist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province.
Jihadist violence also accounts for the re-entry of Niger into the top 50, up 21 places to no. 33. Insurgency is spreading into Niger and Burkina Faso, with Mali (24) rising four places because of increased pressure and jihadist violence.
Governments use technology to identify and oppress Christians.
Governments are using pioneering technology to surveil and control its citizens. Countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China and Malaysia. In India, Hindu extremists use social technology platforms to incite violence and discrimination.
The Covid crisis has been used as a cover to weaken the church.
In Myanmar and Qatar, house churches have remained closed despite the lifting of Covid restrictions. Under Communist ideology in the Americas, the pandemic continued to be used as a pretext to monitor churches and impose greater restrictions. In Vietnam, state and non-state actors used COVID-19 outbreaks to slander churches.