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Number of Christians facing persecution increases

Thomas Baldwin reports on the most dangerous places to live as a Christian.

OVER 300 million Christians worldwide are facing high or extreme levels of persecution for their faith, according to the charity Open Doors.

Christians announced the finding as it released this year’s World Watch List, its annual ranking of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian.

It estimates that this year there are 260 million Christians in the 50 countries on the list (an increase of 15 million from last year) and a further 50 million in 23 countries outside the top 50 facing high levels of persecution.

The list is based on an analysis of faith-based persecution in five spheres of life, from private life to national laws, and the scale of violence Christians face.

North Korea remains at number one, as it has been since the list was started in 2002. Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iran and India make up the rest of the top ten. Countries which have risen sharply include China (at 23), where churches are pressured and monitored by the state; Burkina Faso (28), where there have been radical Islamic attacks on churches, Christian schools and health centres; and Sri Lanka (30), where more than 250 people were killed in church attacks on Easter Sunday 2019.

Other key findings include the growth of digital persecution, particularly in China where authorities are using artificial intelligence and biometric measurement to increase their surveillance and control of

However, fewer Christians were killed for their faith in 2019 than in either of the previous two years, largely due to fewer murders in Nigeria. And the Open Doors report highlights hopeful signs in Sudan, thanks to the ousting of President Omar Al-Bashir, and Iraq, where over 1000 Christian families have been able to return to the Nineveh plain after Islamic State was driven out. religious believers; the expansion of Islamic extremism in sub-Saharan Africa; and the continued shrinkage of Christianity in its place of birth, the Middle East. 40,000 or more Christians were directly affected by the Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria from October.

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About Life and Work

IN THIS ISSUE SCOTLAND 2020 The changing face of Scotland since the millennium CHANGED BY AFRICA Social enterprise group trip to Zambia TAKING STEPS OF FAITH Interview with chief exectutive of National Weekend of Invitation and much more