Mohabat News – Islamic extremism is the prime persecutor of Christians in the world today, and Islamic extremists, either in government, or in violent opposition to that government, are the sources of that persecution, said Ron Boyd-MacMillan, chief strategy officer for Open Doors.
In fact, the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East that began nearly two years ago have resulted in an even greater persecution of Christians.
"The Arab Spring has turned into an Islamic Winter for the Christians in the Middle East," said Boyd-MacMillan. "In every country where a regime has been deposed — such as Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Egypt — Islam is still in power and putting pressure on the Christian minority."
Saudi Arabia was the worst persecutor second only to North Korea, which practices a cult-like worship of the ruling Kim family, according to Boyd-MacMillan. North Korea imprisons from 50,000 to 70,000 of its 200,000 to 400,000 Christians in labor camps.
Mali, formerly a model country, leapt into the top 10 persecutors after a March coup imposed Shari'a, resulting in a mass exodus of Christians.
"Persecution usually occurs because the church is a genuine threat to evil," said Boyd-MacMillan. "Jesus said, 'Love your enemies'; He didn't say, 'Don't make any.' And all over the world, millions of nameless Christians are standing up and making an enemy of unjust ideologies ... without this tidal wave of loving defiance, the world would be an awful place. And from this loving defiance, growth comes and hope stays strong."
The rankings compiled by Open Doors since 1991 are based on the degrees of restrictions in private life, family life, community life, congregational life and national life. In addition, the U.S. State Department compiles a list of the world's most severe violators of religious freedom; its most egregious "countries of particular concern" include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.