2017 World Watch List

Gary Fallesen

2017 World Watch List

Living in a world of hate

North Korea is called “the worst place on earth for Christians.” For the 16th consecutive year, Open Doors – a ministry that serves the persecuted church – ranked North Korea as the most oppressive place for Christians on its 2017 World Watch List.

But persecution is not limited to that totalitarian communist state – or to the past two decades.

Juliana Taimoorazy, an Assyrian Christian born and raised in Iran, had eight family members “slaughtered in 120 years by Muslims. What Islamic State is doing is not new,” she said at The Bridge: Conference on the Persecuted Church in Silver Spring, MD, USA in July 2016, “it’s gone on for 14 centuries.”

Persecution is, in fact, as old as the church. Jesus was crucified. Ten of His original 12 followers were martyred for their faith. Jews, Romans, Turks, Soviets, Nazis, North Koreans, Muslims, and many other groups have persecuted Christians.

Christ told us: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18, ESV).

The world continues to hate Christianity.

“For the fourth year in a row, the level of overall persecution has risen, with Asia, particularly, showing a rapid rise,” Open Doors reported. “North Korea is still number one. As Hindu nationalists batter the churches, India climbs to its highest ever ranking of 15. Islamic extremism continues to strangle the expression of the Christian faith, fueling persecution in 14 out of the top 20 countries, and 35 of the top 50. Millions of Christians around the world now live their lives against varying levels of discrimination, discovery, violence and arrest.”

The complete 2017 World Watch List:

Extreme persecution

1.    North Korea (#1 last year)
2.    Somalia (2)
3.    Afghanistan (4)
4.    Pakistan (6)
5.    Sudan (8)
6.    Syria (5)
7.    Iraq (2)
8.    Iran (9)
9.    Yemen (11)
10.    Eritrea (3)

Very high persecution

11.    Libya (10)
12.    Nigeria (12)
13.    Maldives (13)
14.    Saudi Arabia (14)
15.    India (17)
16.    Uzbekistan (15)
17.    Vietnam (20)
18.    Kenya (16)
19.    Turkmenistan (19)
20.    Qatar (18)
21.    Egypt (23)
22.    Ethiopia (18)
23.    Palestinian Territories (24)
24.    Laos (29)
25.    Brunei (25)
26.    Bangladesh (35)
27.    Jordan (27)
28.    Myanmar (23)
29.    Tunisia (32)
30.    Bhutan (38)
31.    Malaysia (30)

High persecution

32.    Mali (44)
33.    Tanzania (36)
34.    Central African Republic (26)
35.    Tajikistan (31)
36.    Algeria (37)
37.    Turkey (45)
38.    Kuwait (41)
39.    China (33)
40.    Djibouti (28)
41.    Mexico (40)
42.    Comoros (39)
43.    Kazakhstan (42)
44.    United Arab Emirates (47)
45.    Sri Lanka (unranked)
46.    Indonesia (43)
47.    Mauritania (unranked)
48.    Bahrain (48)
49.    Oman (50)
50.    Colombia (46)

Azerbaijan (34th last year) and Niger (49th) were removed from the World Watch List in 2017.
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