2023 World Watch List: Religious persecution spiking in Sub-Saharan Africa

 By Diana Chandler - Posted at Baptist Press:

ORANGE, Calif. (BP) – Violence against Christians is spiking in Sub-Saharan Africa, driven by violence nurtured in Nigeria by Islamic and Fulani terrorists, Open Doors U.S. said Jan. 17 in its 2023 World Watch List tracking Christian persecution globally.

Nearly 90 percent of the 5,621 Christians killed in the study period were in Nigeria, Open Doors U.S. said, verifying 5,014 such killings there.

“Open Doors only records the events that we can verify. In reality much persecution, including killings, happen in very rural areas, or behind closed doors or in prison camps,” Lisa Pearce, Open Doors U.S. interim CEO, said in releasing the report. “So it’s likely that the recorded figures are just the tip of the iceberg.”

In Nigeria, terrorists including Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province, militant Fulani and others are known for raiding Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnappings its residents and demanding exorbitant ransoms.

China is intensifying persecution of Christians through digital surveillance and, with economic and political influence, is spreading its brand of authoritarian persecution to countries including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia and Central Asia, Open Doors said.

North Korea returns to the top spot it has held on the list since 2002, excepting 2022 when Afghanistan was ranked as the most dangerous country for Christians. North Korea’s enforcement of its Anti-Reactionary Thought Law has spurred much of the persecution there, Open Doors said, giving North Korea its highest persecution score ever.

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