Global persecution of Christians has risen for the fourth year in a row and is on a "rapid rise" in Asia fueled by "extreme religious nationalism," a new report warns.
The report from Open Doors UK, released Wednesday, offers a stark picture of Christian persecution around the world.
"Religious nationalism is sweeping the globe according to figures released today as part of the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List," said Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland, Catholic News Agency reported.
"Persecution levels have been rising rapidly across Asia and the Indian subcontinent, driven by extreme religious nationalism which is often tacitly condoned, and sometimes actively encouraged, by local and national governments."
According to the report, all top 10 countries with the worst persecution of Christians are in Asia and Africa.
North Korea is still the most difficult place in the world to be a Christian, with Somalia ranking second, followed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Eritrea, the report found.
Other "key findings" were:
- Islamic extremism is the main engine of persecution in 14 out of the most hostile 20 countries in the World Watch List, and 35 of the top 50.
- In the Middle East, Christians face pressure under both radical and autocratic regimes.
- Over 200 million Christians in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian experience high levels of persecution because of their faith.
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