Ron Boyd-MacMillan announces Open Doors International's annual report at the National Press Club Tuesday. (Photo by J.C. Derrick for WORLD)
For the 11th straight year, Christians in North Korea suffered the most persecution in the world, according to 2012 rankings released Tuesday by Open Doors International, a U.S.-based group that keeps track of worldwide persecution of believers.
Its annual World Watch List revealed persecution is on the rise worldwide, especially in Arab Spring countries and areas around the Sahel belt of Africa.
"All of the Arab Spring countries are going to get worse for the church for the next five to 10 years," Ron Boyd-MacMillan, Open Doors' chief strategy officer, told me after announcing the report at a press conference Tuesday at the National Press Club. Boyd-MacMillan said the one exception is Egypt, which dropped from No. 15 to No. 25 on the list of 50 because "while the [Muslim] Brotherhood is still maneuvering, the church is fairly free."
The reporting period ended in October, so rankings do not include violence sparked by Egypt's new constitution.
North Korea's No. 1 ranking came as no surprise, since between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians continue to suffer in brutal labor camps. Not only has the situation not improved under new leader Kim Jong Un, Boyd-McMillan said the conditions for Christians may have even worsened.
The African country of Mali presented the biggest surprise of the list, jumping from unranked last year to No. 7--one of 11 countries where Open Doors reports "extreme persecution." Islamic extremism accounts for the deteriorating conditions after Sharia law was instituted last year in the northern part of the country.
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SOURCE: WORLD Magazine