2015 Witnessed Highest Level of Christian Persecution in Modern History, Says Open Doors World Watch List Report

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(Photo : European Commission DG ECHO/Flickr/CC) Domiz refugee camp, in northern Iraq, hosts around 65 000 Syrian refugees since its opening in April 2012.
Open Doors, a persecution watchdog group, released its annual report which noted that the violence perpetrated against Christians last year was one of the highest in recent years.

Over 7,000 Christians were murdered for their faith during the past year. North Korea recorded the highest number of persecutions, followed by Iraq.

North Korea has remained on the top slot in the Open Doors World Watch List over the last 14 years. Presently, more than 50,000 Christians are expected to be detained in the country’s notorious labor camps.

The study released on January 13 says that Iraq topped the list of Islamic countries where the persecution had risen to “a level akin to ethnic cleansing.”

Even though religious persecution has long been prevalent in countries such as North Korea and Eritrea, violence against Christians increased in recent years due to militant groups such as Islamic State and Al-Shabaab.

Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab were the “sinister” force behind violence in four African countries, according to Open Doors CEO David Curry spoke to reporters at a press briefing about this year’s findings.

The other countries scoring high on persecution were Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan, while Niger and Oman ranked the lowest.

Last year, Open Doors said that 2014 surpassed modern history in the level of persecution against Christians. However, the year 2015 reported an even more increased amount of violence directed towards Christians.

“The 2016 World Watch List documents an unprecedented escalation of violence against Christians, making this past year the most violent and sustained attack on Christian faith in modern history. This research has concluded that after the brutal persecution of Christians in 2014, 2015 proved to be even worse with the persecution continuing to increase, intensify and spread across the globe,” Curry said.

According to Curry, over 2,400 churches worldwide were destroyed or damaged this year.

“Religious freedom is threatened by the impact of blasphemy laws or apostasy laws in countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan and in a number of others as well as laws that purport to protect religious sentiments from offense,” said David Saperstein, U.S. State Department’s Ambassador at-large for International Religious Freedom, said at the press conference.

“In far too many countries far too many people face daunting, alarming restrictions ” on practicing their faith, he noted. “Every one of the numbers in this report is a human being.”