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Global persecution of Christians "more extreme than ever before"

Wed 13 Jan 2016
By Antony Bushfield

North Korea has topped the list of countries where Christians are most at risk of persecution for the fourteenth year in a row.

The charity Open Doors said the persecution of believers across the world was "more extreme than ever before".

It's annual report found religious fundamentalism was 'sweeping' the world, with around 70,000 Christians jailed in North Korea.

"Persecution levels have been rapidly rising. This year, a country had to score 50 per cent more points than in 2013 to even make it onto the list," said CEO Lisa Pearce.

The study found that well over 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide because of their beliefs.

North Korea remains the worst place to be a Christian while Iraq (2) has replaced Somalia (7) as the second most dangerous place to be a Christian.

Eritrea, now nicknamed the 'North Korea of Africa' due to high levels of dictatorial paranoia, follows at number three.

Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan are the next most difficult places for Christians.

The biggest rises in persecution were found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Eritrea.

Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system, and while the lowest ranking country in 2013 had 35 points, this year's lowest ranking country had 53 points - an increase of more than 50 per cent.

It found persecution in India has risen dramatically for the third year running.

The report will be discussed at an event in parliament on Wednesday evening, due to be attended by more than 100 MPs.

Analysis by Open Doors researchers found that the religious freedom of over 200 million people is severely threatened by a new wave of Hindu nationalist electoral successes that have seen the introduction of anti-conversion laws.

Most Christians killed for their faith were from sub-Saharan Africa.

Syria is the largest displacement crisis globally.

Aleppo was home to 400,000 Christians at the start of the civil war - now Open Doors estimates less than 60,000 remain, with families leaving every day.

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