Christians are facing an alarming rise in persecution this year, according to Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List report. For decades, this non-profit group has systematically and meticulously produced annual reports which serve as the world’s largest investigative research available on Christian persecution.
The 2020 report highlights the top 15 countries where persecution is highest. Radical Islam is the driver of persecution in all but two of these countries, according to the report. Christians in countries where radical Islamic strongholds are present tend to face the most severe punishment for simply adhering to their faith.
Falling just one point behind North Korea, the nation with the worst record of Christian persecution, is Afghanistan where the influence of the Taliban and ISIS-affiliated groups is on the rise. Those discovered in Afghanistan to be practicing the Christian faith, considering conversion or exploring any religion besides Islam for that matter are often issued death warrants.
Christians face similar fates in Somalia, number three out of 50 countries reported, where radical Islam also is reported to be behind violence against religious minorities. The brutal terrorist groupal-Shabab adheres to Sharia law as the foundation for monitoring Somalian society. This group currently holds sway over about 20% of Somalia with thousands of fighters. Al-Shabab leadership has consistently expressed its ambition to “eradicate Christians from the country.” Open Doors reports religious persecution in Somalia to be “exceptional and puts Somalia high up in the category of extreme persecution.”
Libya is ranked fourth on Open Door’s 2020 World Watch List. Areas controlled by ISIS and other radical Islamic groups including the Islamic Dawn collation can be are deadly for Christians. Many are detained and inhumanely thrown in detention centers, forced into heavy labor or forced into prostitution.
In Pakistan, over 4 million Christians are at risk of institutionalized discrimination and persecution. While any person suspected of adhering to the Christian faith is susceptible to this violence, women are particularly vulnerable. Open Doors reports that “an estimated 700 girls and women abducted each year are raped and then forcefully married to Muslim men in the community, usually resulting in forced conversions.”