The figure is alarming. In 2019, nearly 260 million Christians were "severely persecuted" worldwide, according to a Doors Open report published on Wednesday January 15, 2020. The NGO notes an increase, even if the number of people killed because of their faith has declined.
This Protestant organization publishes on Wednesday its annual index of the 50 countries where Christians are the most targeted, for the period from November 2018 to October 2019. In total, 260 million Christians – Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Baptists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals … – were "heavily persecuted", up from 245 million in 2018, she said.
The NGO understands by "persecution" both violence, which can go as far as murder, but also more discreet daily oppression. "This increase can be explained in particular by a deterioration of the situation of religious freedom in China at the national level, affecting more and more regions, and by the deployment of jihadism in Africa", writes the NGO.
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The number of Christians killed fell from 4,305 to 2,983, down 31% from the previous year. "For three years, this number had continued to increase," according to Doors Open, which explains this decrease by the "decrease in the (known) number of Christians killed in Nigeria". However, Nigeria remains “at the top” of the countries with the largest number of Christians killed for their faith (1,350 dead).
In addition, in one year, the number of churches targeted (closed, attacked, damaged, burned down …) has increased fivefold worldwide, from 1,847 to 9,488, while the number of Christians detained is increased from 3,150 to 3,711. All forms of persecution combined, North Korea is once again at the top of this annual ranking. "The totalitarian grip of the regime on each individual makes faith in God a crime against the regime, reason enough to end his life in a forced labor camp," according to the NGO. Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, India follow.
Doors Open, partner of Open Doors International (which operates in 60 countries), affirms that its figures, which in particular only list assassinations "proven with certainty", are "below reality". This association, which "provides spiritual, moral and humanitarian support" to persecuted Christians, has existed in France since 1976.