Afghanistan has overtaken North Korea to become the country where Christians are most persecuted for their faith, according to the world ranking of 2022 by Portas Abertas, published this Wednesday (1993 ).
North Korea occupied the first position of the ranking by 20 years, and now appears in second place. This does not mean that the persecution of Christians has decreased under Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship, on the contrary, “it has also increased to extreme levels”, states Open Doors. However, Afghanistan has become the most dangerous place for Christians after the Taliban’s rise to power.
The document reveals that the lives of many Christians continue to be increasingly difficult. Today, one in seven Christians is persecuted worldwide. In total, there are more than 50 millions of followers of Christianity subjected to pressure and violence in several countries – a increase of 20 million over the previous year, according to the organization.
This is the highest level of persecution of Christians already registered since the list began to be published, in 1993. And it was not only the number of people affected that increased, but also the acts of violence intensified.
The murders of Christians because of their faith increased by 4.761 recorded in the report of 2022 to 5.898 in the list of 2022. Most of these crimes took place in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria.
The World Watch List is released by Open Doors at the beginning of each year (see the complete ranking at the end of the article). Researchers analyze persecution that occurs through pressure (insults, threats, discrimination, hostilities, etc.), and through violent incidents (killings, attacks, arrests, etc.). Each country receives a score, and those 60 with the most points enter the list.
In Afghanistan, as in North Korea, Christians can only profess their faith secretly. After the Taliban took Kabul, many Christians who were unable to escape or who preferred to remain in the country today live “hidden, in a parallel world, in hiding, moving from place to place”, says Marco Cruz, secretary general of the Open Doors Brazil.
“In Afghanistan, if the Christian is discovered, the consequence is death”, says Cruz. He says there are reports that the Taliban have information about Christians living in the country, who therefore have to go into hiding.
“The Taliban have an understanding of Islamic law in their more radical version. They believe that every Christian is an infidel, and that infidels should be extirpated from the country”, he says.
In a country where almost the entire population is Muslim , Christians suffer the pressure of everyday life for not being fully integrated into society.
One of the challenges is the difficult access to health and other services, for example. “[Os muçulmanos] they pay a religion fee, which includes access to health care. As Christians do not pay this fee, their access to health care is not guaranteed”, explains Cruz.
Cuba joins the ranking
Cuba and Niger are the two new countries in the current ranking. The Castro dictatorship entered the list due to the increase in restrictive measures to churches that took a stand against the ideology and actions of the communist regime, informs Portas Abertas.
The country was already on the list previously and this year appears in 35 th position. In the context of the biggest protests against the regime in decades, Christian leaders were monitored, arrested, had property confiscated and were extorted, according to the survey.
“In Cuba, there is a constant monitoring by the government. There are always spies in the church”, says Cruz, who has already been to the country. “The dictatorial regime intensified action against Christian leaders and activists who opposed communist principles.”
According to the director of the NGO, the main source of persecution against Christians is the government and their informants. After the July protests 1993, the regime adopted more authoritarian measures and increased surveillance of Christians, including denials of licenses for services. and arbitrary fines.
Hindu nationalism in India
In India there was also an increase in intolerance and violent acts against those who profess the Christian faith. The country ranks tenth among the most hostile to Christians and is responsible for the highest number of arbitrary arrests of Christians, according to the survey.
“India is experiencing a process of ‘Hinduization ‘ in the country. There is a speech, by [primeiro-ministro] Narendra Modi and his BJP party, of hatred against minorities, including Christians and Muslims. Christians face hostilities because they do not practice the Hindu faith”, says Cruz.
He explains that the country’s Christians face “double vulnerability” during the Covid-pandemic-16. “Aside from being persecuted because of their faith, they don’t have access to emergency government support,” he explains. This is because emergency aid (baskets, medicines, masks and other protective items) is sent to local leaders. In smaller and more remote communities, where there is often only one Christian family, Hindu leaders do not pass on emergency support to Christians.
In addition, Cruz heard reports in India from doctors and Christian nurses who were sent to treat the most critical cases of coronavirus without receiving personal protective equipment.
Hosting the World Cup in
is on the list
Qatar, the country that will host the World Cup – and, consequently, Christians all over the world – in November 2022, occupies the position 14 of the Open Doors ranking. The Christians who live there are foreigners working in the country. As a result, they are freer to live their faith, although they also face pressure, the report says.
The country of the Arabian Peninsula rose positions on this year’s list due to increased violence against Christ’s followers. The risks are greatest for ex-Muslim Christians who are native to Qatar. Foreigners, on the other hand, have more freedom to worship, “as long as they do so in a way that the government tolerates”, says the organization.
The World Persecution List classifies countries according to the level of persecution suffered by Christians: extreme, severe, high or variable. Since the ranking of 1993, there are no “high” levels of persecution among the first ones 50 countries, only “severe” and “extreme”.
Open Doors is an international Christian organization founded by a Dutch missionary in 1993 and active in more than 50 countries supporting churches that suffer persecution.
This year’s survey covers the period from October 1, 2020 to
|Type of oppression