Islamic Nations Dominate '09 Persecution List
Reports that at least 10 Christians were abducted and killed for their faith – sometimes by beheading – during 2008 has pushed Somalia into the Top 10 among nation's that aggressively persecute Christians, according to a new report from Open Doors USA.
The organization today released its 2009 World Watch List, which cited Korea – for the seventh straight year – as the nation that persecutes Christians more intensely than any other around the globe.
But Somalia rose from 12th in 2008 to 5th this year because of the growing level of attacks there, according to the report which noted two of the worst three nations, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are nations governed by Islamic Shariah law, and seven of the Top 10 nations fall into that category.
Paul Estabrooks, the organization's minister-at-large, told WND that those Islamic nations "certainly are impacted significantly by Shariah."
According to reports from Compass Direct News, it was only about 12 weeks ago when an aid worker was beheaded in Somalia specifically for converting from Islam to Christianity.
Witnesses told the organization Muslim extremists had gathered a crowd in Manyafulka village by telling them of a feast that was being prepared.
Eyewitnesses who insisted on anonymity because they feared reprisals said the Islamics carried guns and swords and dragged a handcuffed Mansuur Mohammed with them. They reported one Muslim pulled back Mohammed's head, another recited the Quran and another twisted his head so an executioner could slit his neck.
The killers then displayed the severed head to the petrified crowd, the report said.
The report said a video taken on a mobile telephone later was circulated in what many saw as a strategy to terrify anyone contemplating conversion from Islam to Christianity.
Open Doors said Afghanistan, Somalia and the Maldives are fourth, fifth and sixth, with Afghanistan moving up three spots because of an aggressive effort from Taliban officials during 2008.
In seventh is Yemen, Laos is No. 8, Eritrea, a newcomer to the Top 10, is No. 9 and Uzbekistan No. 10.
Estabrooks told WND Eritrea's jump into the Top 10 was because of its dictator's decision to place as many as 3,000 Christians in prison cells – many made of no more than steel shipping crates – without court hearings.
China dropped from No. 10 to No. 12 this year and Bhutan dropped from No. 5 to No. 11, although they remain of high concern, officials said.
The top offenders influenced by Shariah are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen and Uzbekistan. North Korea and Laos are communist while Eritrea is a dictatorship.
The World Watch List is compiled from a specially-designed questionnaire of 50 questions covering various aspects of religious freedom. A point value is assigned depending on how each question is answered. The total number of points per country determines its position on the World Watch List of countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians.
"It is certainly not a shock that North Korea is No. 1 on the list of countries where Christians face the worst persecution," said Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA. "There is no other country in the world where Christians are persecuted in such a horrible and systematic manner."
The rights of Christians deteriorated in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan (13), Iraq (16), Mauritania (18), Algeria (19), India (22), Northern Nigeria (26), Indonesia (41), Bangladesh (43) and Kazakhstan (50) for the 2009 report, Open Doors said.
Persecution continued "unabated" in Saudi Arabia, where the daughter of a member of the nation's religious police force was killed for writing online about her new faith in Christ.
According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Saudi police also just two weeks ago arrested a man "because of his opinions and his testimony that he had converted from Islam to Christianity."
In Iran, Islamic crackdowns have been boosted aggressively on house churches, in Afghanistan, a Christian was killed after being accused of "spreading" Christianity, and India's ranking rose from 30 to 22 because of the "worst outbreak of religious violence on record for Christians in … the state of Orissa," the report said.
The organization estimates 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation.