North Korea comes top of persecution list

NORTH KOREA has again come top of the list of countries which persecute Christians, according to the religious liberties charity, Open Doors.

The chart-style approach to Christian persecution showed that the isolated nation of North Korea came top for the fourth year in a row, but the charity found that overall ‘slightly more openness’ was being observed in other communist countries in the top 10 – Vietnam (7), Laos (9) and China (10).

Saudi Arabia came second in the list of countries most dangerous to the health of Christians, followed by other Islam-dominated countries such as Iran at three, Somalia at four, the Maldives at five and Yemen at eight. Bhutan represented the only Buddhist nation in the top 10 at six.

According to Open Doors, tens of thousands of Christians are suffering in North Korean prison camps. The regime, it is believed, has detained more political and religious prisoners than any other country in the world.

Saudi Arabia has also held the second spot for four years. “Religious freedom does not exist in Saudi Arabia,” said the charity. “The legal system is based on Islamic law and ‘apostasy’ – leaving Islam or converting to another religion – is punishable by death.” Open Doors said that more than 70 expatriate Christians were arrested in the country during worship in private homes in 2005 – the largest crackdown on Christians in a decade.

The charity said that Iran had seen a greater deterioration in religious freedom following the election of the hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Presidency last summer. Christians have been rounded up for harassment, arrested and beaten during the latter half of 2005, said Open Doors. “One house-church pastor was stabbed to death in November and his bleeding body was thrown in front of his home a few hours later.” In Somalia according to the List a similar deterioration in religious freedom has taken place. Five converts from Islam were killed in 2005, while many others fled.

Christians who form less than one per cent of the population are forced to worship in secret.

The full list:

1, North Korea,
2, Saudi Arabia,
3 Iran,
4 Somali,
5 Maldives,
6 Bhutan,
7 Vietnam,
8 Yemen,
9 Laos,
10 China,
11 Afghanistan,
12 Uzbekistan,
13 Turkmenistan,
14 Eritrea,
15 Comoros,
16 Pakistan,
17 Egypt,
18 Myanmar,
19 Azerbaijan,
20 Morocco.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Church of England Newspaper, UK
Mar. 17, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday March 18, 2006.
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