The Top 10 Countries for the Persecution of Christians (2023)
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb 13:3)
The 10 top countries in the world for the persecution of Christians in 2023 are as follows:
1. North Korea, East Asia (Communist) – Population 25.9 million (1.7% Christian)
2. Somalia, The Horn of Africa (Islamic) – Population 17 million (99.8% Muslim)
3. Yemen, Western Asia (Islamic) – Population 31 million (99.6% Muslim)
4. Eritrea, The Horn of Africa (Christian/Islamic) – Population est. 5 million (36% Muslim)
5. Libya, North Africa (Islamic) – Population 7 million (97% Muslim)
6. Nigeria, Western Africa (Mixed) – 225 million (46.3% Christian)
7. Pakistan, South Asia (Islamic) – Population 243 million (96% Muslim)
8. Iran, Western Asia (Islamic) – 86.7 million (99.5% Muslim)
9. Afghanistan, South Central Asia (Islamic) – Population 38.3 million (99.7% Muslim)
10. Sudan, Northeast Africa (Islamic) – 47.9 million (91.7% Muslim)
(Population figures are from Wikipedia from various recent years).
1. North Korea
If the North Korean government finds out you are a Christian, you’ll be sent to a dreadful labour camp. Thousands are house in these cruel locations. Most will die there, never being released. In a country where the President is worshipped as a god, the people are so indoctrinated that your could easily be betrayed by your own family. Yet the news is that the number of believers in Christ in Korea is growing.
The constitution of Somalia assumes all of its citizens will be Muslims. Even being suspected of being a Christian can lead to instant death by execution. Al-Shabaab (an African Islamist terrorist group) has publicly declared that it wants Somalia to be “free of all Christians”. Reports speak of small groups of Christians meeting in secret, constantly changing their location to avoid detection.
Conversion to Christianity is illegal in Yemen. Anyone who leaves Islam faces punishment, house arrest or even being the victim of an honour killing. Islam is the state religion. Evangelism is forbidden, Yemeni believers are few and far between and face many difficulties in this tribal culture.
The government of Eritrea views Christians as “agents of the West” and will arrest, harass and kill them with impunity. People are encouraged to spy on their neighbours, accusing Christians of being unpatriotic. Hundreds are arrested each year, some being held in shipping containers in scorching conditions. Over 1,000 believers are currently in jail. Despite the dangers, the work of the gospel continues.
It is said that there are just 150 Christians in Libya. The country is dangerous, unstable and hostile to Christianity, The isolated believers find support through radio programmes etc. Since 2014 it has no longer been illegal to convert to Christianity, but the law is ambiguous and is abused.
The part of the Nigerian population taking the label Christian are mainly situated in the south of the country. The North of the country is mainly Muslim, and it’s there, as well as in the central region, where most persecution of Christians happens. From Open Doors: “More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, Fulani militants, ISWAP (an affiliate of so-called Islamic State) and other Islamic extremist groups are common in the north and middle belt of the country, and are becoming more common further south…Christians from a Muslim background face rejection by and pressure from their families.”
Many Church buildings have been bombed or burnt down. An estimated 700 Catholic and Protestant girls and women are abducted every year in Pakistan. They are often raped and forced to marry Muslim men, involving a forced conversion. Still, many believers, mainly from the poorest sections of society, still meet together to worship and serve their Lord. Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws are abused as Christians are singled out as targets.
Islam is the state religion. Evangelism is prohibited. All laws in Iran must match the requirement of Sharia law. A Muslim who leaves Islam is considered an apostate and is at risk of the death penalty. Underground meetings of believers are often raided. Nevertheless, reports speak of people being saved and turning to Christ.
Afghan Christians are not allowed to exist. There are no church buildings in Afghanistan. Not one. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death. Reports say some Afghans are being saved as they hear the gospel on the radio and in other ways. During 2022, the Taliban became stricter and stricter in their enforcement of Islamic extremism.
Sudan has taken the place of India in the list of top 10 dangerous countries for Christians in 2023. The past year has seen violence and pressure against Christians in this Islamic country worsen. Power is in the hands of the military and freedoms are likely to be rolled back and undone.
Most of the above details have been gleaned from information put out by Open Doors and other persecution information providers online.