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Plight of African Christians worsens

11 January 2013

THE persecution of Christians in Africa "increased dramatically" during 2012, Open Doors said this week when it published its list of the 50 countries where, it says, Christians are persecuted the most.

Open Doors' World Watch List, published on Tuesday, featured the West African country of Mali in its top ten for the first time. Open Doors' chief strategy officer, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, said that, after a coup in Mali (News, 13 April 2012), Christians "have effectively become 'personae non gratae', and can no longer exist in northern states of the country".

Other African countries to feature in the World Watch List include Somalia, at number 5, Eritrea (10), and Sudan (12).

"In Africa, extremist expressions of Islam have rapidly gained influence across the continent," a statement from Open Doors said. "In some instances, this has led to focused attacks, such as those by the terrorist organisation Boko Haram in Nigeria, while in other instances the influence of Islam has been softer, and has been carried out via the infiltration of different social and economic areas."

North Korea is ranked as the country where Christians are persecuted most, as it has every year since the list was first published in 2002. "The mere possession of a Bible in North Korea is often enough reason for a Christian to be executed or sent to a prison camp", Open Doors said.

Other countries in the top ten include Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Maldives, Iran, and Yemen.

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