Christian persecution increase in Africa

SANTA ANA, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2013) – Persecution of
Christians in Africa vastly increased in 2012, according
to the Open Doors 2013 World Watch List of 50
countries where Christians face the most severe
persecution for their faith.
The number of countries on the African continent
sharply increased on the annual list due to the
increasing influence of Islam, states Open Doors, an
organization that supports persecuted Christians
worldwide. Mali is a newcomer on the list and holds the
No. 7 position. Tanzania (No. 24), Kenya (No. 40),
Uganda (47) and Niger (No. 50) also moved onto the
World Watch List and Ethiopia is one of the strongest
risers (from No. 38 to No. 15) on the list. 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.
North Korea is still No. 1 when it comes to persecution
of Christians. For the 11th consecutive year, the hermit
communist country heads the World Watch List.
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. 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,” says Open Doors spokesman Jerry
Dykstra. “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.
Attacks and infiltration
The most notable trend Open Doors researchers found
was the increase of persecution in Africa.
Fundamentalist variations of Islam rapidly gain influence
on the continent. On the one hand, this was due to
focused attacks, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria (No.
13). On the other, the influence of Islam increased
through infiltration in different social and economic
areas. Open Doors saw a similar pattern in several
African countries.
“We do not necessarily distinguish one overall plan from
one source in the whole of Africa. However, we do see
that radical Islamic groups are patiently waiting for the
right time to show their power,” Dykstra explains.
“Apart from the pattern of violent attacks, we see that
radical Muslims are infiltrating into politics, business
and the judicial power, such as introducing Sharia family
courts. On a number of occasions, Muslims were ready
to step into a power vacuum. Take Mali, for example,
where Touareg rebels and Muslim fundamentalists
gained power in April 2012.”
Mali was a model country
Of the African countries, Mali is the most noticeable
newcomer on the World Watch List due to its sudden
emergence to No. 7.The situation in Mali escalated after
the coup.
“Mali used to be a model country,” says 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.
A pastor from the northern part of Mali told Open
Doors that he was informed that Muslim
fundamentalists were planning to kill all Christians. He
warned all the members of his congregation to leave.
That happened. Hundreds of Christians fled from the
north to the south of the country or neighboring
countries.
Syria makes big jump
Outside of Mali, Syria made the largest jump on the
World Watch List. The country is No. 11 on the list,
compared to No. 36 in 2012. For years under the regime
of President Assad, Christians were allowed the
freedom to worship but not evangelize. They have now
come under pressure from rebels fighting against the
regime. To add to this, jihadists entered Syria with an
anti-Christian agenda making life for Christians in the
country virtually impossible. Tens of thousands of
Christians have fled.
China continues drop
China continued its descent on the World Watch List.
Five years ago, the country was ranked in the Top 10,
but now it has dropped from No. 21 to No. 37. The
government still considers the church to be a political
movement and wishes to be informed of all Christian
activity. However, house searches, arrests and the
confiscation of Bibles and Christian books no longer
occur on a large scale. Instead, 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.
Difficult situation in Egypt
Egypt has also descended on the World Watch List,
going from No. 15 to No. 25. Nevertheless, the country’s
score does not show any improvement. The drop is a
result of Open Doors’ change in methodology to
monitor and chart the persecution of Christians. The
Christians with a Muslim background are facing the
most serious problems. Apart from that, Egypt is going
through a difficult stage. Islamist groups, such as the
Muslim Brotherhood, are gaining more power after the
election of Mohammed Morsi last summer.
Change in methodology
More than ever before, the World Watch List provides
an insight in the overall spectrum of the persecution of
Christians in all spheres of life (private, family,
community, national and church.) The freedom to come
together and the degree in which Christians are exposed
to acts of violence are also included in the monitoring.
This results in a balanced scoring, taking into account
both the impact of violent incidents and less visible,
structural developments threatening the position of
Christians.
Christians are persecuted in at least 60 countries
for their faith. They suffer interrogation, arrest
and even death in some of the most dangerous
and restrictive countries in the world. For 58 years
Open Doors has supported and strengthened
believers worldwide through Bible and Christian
literature distribution, leadership training and
assistance, Christian community development and
prayer and presence ministry. To partner with
Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5
(888-524-2535) or go to our Website at
www.OpenDoorsUSA.org .
(For more information or to set up an interview on the
World Watch List, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117
or email jerryd . For the list of all 50
countries on the WWL and more articles, go to
www.worldwatchlist.us.)
Contact
Jerry Dykstra
JerryD
616-915-4117

Source: pressreleases.religionnews.com/2013/01/08/african-countries-make-persecution-surge-on-open-doors-world-watch-list/

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