Open Doors: one in seven Christians persecuted worldwide, Afghanistan the most dangerous place
In Open Doors’ World Watch List 2022, Afghanistan bumps North Korea for the top spot as the most hostile place for Christians in the world, even though the situation in the East Asian country has worsened. On average, 16 Christians are killed and 10 abducted worldwide per day. Two out of every five Christians in Asia live in an area where persecution is rampant. Another study released in Jaipur reports about 300 attacks against Christians in India in the past nine months.
Rome (AsiaNews) – In 2021 anti-Christian persecution is up in the world. About 360 million Christians (one in seven) endure high levels of persecution and discrimination in their own country, this according to the World Watch List 2022 by Open Doors, an international NGO that reports anti-Christian persecution every year, ranking the 50 top offenders.
For the first time in 20 years, North Korea is no longer the most dangerous country for Christians, but only because of the worsening situation in Afghanistan where the fate of hidden Christians has become even more dangerous since the return of the Taliban.
Nevertheless, the state of religious freedom in North Korea has also worsened under the regime of Kim Jong-un during the period under review (1 October 2020-30 September 2021).
Overall, among the 100 countries monitored by Open Doors, the number with high, very high and extreme levels of persecution against Christians rose from 74 to 76.
In this period, 5,898 Christians were killed in the world (an average of 16 per day), 5,110 churches have been attacked or forced to close, 6,175 Christians have been arrested without trial, and 3,829 Christians have been abducted (10 per day).
Seven of the top 10 countries with the highest levels of violence are in sub-Saharan Africa. But the Open Doors report also highlights intensifying crackdowns by authoritarian governments in Asia, most notably China, where pandemic restrictions have been used to weaken Christian communities in several provinces.
In general, two out of every five Asian Christians live in a territory where persecution is carried out. In India, the report highlights violence against Christians with almost 300 reported attacks in the last nine months.
Another report titled Christians under attack was released yesterday at a press conference held at the St Anselm's school, Malviya Nagar (Jaipur), organised by the Catholic Diocese of Jaipur, the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), the United Christian Forum, and United Against Hate group.
Although “India is a country where every religion is respected”, where people “have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries, [. . .] in the last few years minority groups have been targeted, especially Christian and Muslim communities,” said Bishop Oswald Lewis of Jaipur, speaking about the report. In view of the situation, the “government must take stern actions [. . .] to preserve the unity and democracy of the country,”
Representatives of other religious minorities were also present at the release of the report.
One of them is Mohammad Nazimuddin, president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in Rajasthan. “After Independence some groups were not happy with Mahatma Gandhi and some of the freedom fighters because they stressed secularism and equal rights to all the citizens,” he said. “Since then, India has suffered, losing thousands of lives. Attacks on Christians are also part of it.”
For Buddhist Mahasabha president T. C. Rahul, "Our country is multi-religious and all religions have been living here in peace and harmony for centuries,” he said. “But now the hatred is spreading,” and this “is dangerous for the unity of our country."
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)