Islamic-Majority Countries Top 2012 World Watch List of Persecutors [Excerpts]
North Korea No. 1 Persecutor of Christians for 10th Straight Year
The Open Doors 2012 World Watch List has a familiar look to it. North Korea tops the list for the 10th straight time as the country where Christians face the most severe persecution, while Islamic-majority countries represent nine of the top 10 and 38 of the 50 countries on the annual ranking.
Afghanistan (2), Saudi Arabia (3), Somalia (4), Iran (5) and the Maldives (6) form a bloc where indigenous Christians have almost no freedom to openly worship. For the first time Pakistan (10) entered the top 10, after a tumultuous year during which the nation's highest-ranking Christian politician, Cabinet Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated for his attempts to change the blasphemy law.
The rest of the top 10 is composed of Uzbekistan (7), Yemen (8) and Iraq (9). Laos was the lone country to drop from the top 10 list, falling to No. 12 from No. 10.
While persecution has worsened due to persecution by Muslim extremists, without question North Korea once again deserves its No. 1 ranking. Defiantly Communist, North Korea has built a bizarre quasi-religion around the founder of the country, Kim Il-Sung. Anyone with "another god" is automatically persecuted. The estimated 200,000 to 400,000 Christians in this country must remain deeply underground. An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are held in ghastly prison camps.
"How the death of Kim Jong-Il last month and the coming to power of his son Kim Jong-Un will affect the status of Christians in North Korea is hard to determine at this early stage," Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller said. "Certainly the situation for believers remains perilous. Please pray that the Lord will open up North Korea and there will be religious freedom to worship the One, true God, not the gods of Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung."