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Alarming trends in persecution from the 2019 World Watch List

The past year saw a steady acceleration in hostilities against Christians, according to the recently released 2019 World Watch List.

Five years ago, only North Korea was in the “extreme” category for its level of persecution of Christians. Today,
11 countries score high enough to fit that label.

North Korea holds the top spot for the 18th year in a row, while Afghanistan takes second place, followed by Somalia.

State authoritarianism is an increasing trend in many parts of the world, as seen in China – which jumped from #43 to #27. President Xi has increasingly used the power of the state to persecute Christians and restrict their freedoms with the intent of eliminating any views not wholly subservient to the Communist party.

That same type of authoritarianism has weaponised religion in Myanmar (#18) where “over the decades of armed conflict, the military has turned religion into a tool of [ethnic] oppression,” said the country’s first Catholic cardinal, Charles Maung Bo.

Another dangerous trend is the rise of ultranationalism in countries such as India, which enters the Top 10 at #10. In these cases, a nation’s religious and ethnic majority aggressively forces minorities to forsake their identity or leave the country.

In India, this aggression has also given rise to an alarming tactic in which persecutors threaten to rape a church leader’s wife and even his young children. This reflects global trends that increasingly target women and children directly as part of persecution.

Thank you for helping to strengthen our persecuted brothers and sisters through your prayers, support and advocacy!

A third noticeable trend is the spread of radical Islam from the Middle East across Sub-Saharan Africa. In Egypt (#16), the Islamic State continues to vow to “wipe out” Christians by terrorising the community with targeted murders.

In Somalia, a terrorist group affiliated with the Islamic State has chosen to plant roots in the country as “it represents a good possibility to continue their search for an Islamic state or at least they can continue their ideology without obstacles,” said the Catholic bishop of Mogadishu.

As a “failed” state without a unified government, Libya (#4) continues to be a deadly environment, mainly for Sub-Saharan African migrants – many of whom are Christians.

But these alarming trends have not diminished the testimony of the Gospel!

As one Pakistani believer said,

“I know that from these people around us, we will always have persecution. Now I’m learning to love them.

“Thank you for praying for us wherever you are, friends. Every year, I fill out this questionnaire so you can make your World Watch List. Because of these questions and because you support us through prayer and giving, we know we share the same heart.”

You are helping to strengthen our persecuted brothers and sisters through your prayers, support and advocacy. Thank you for standing with them in their darkest hour as persecution against the Church increases.

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