Christian persecution continues to rage across the globe, with extremism driving many of the horrors described in Open Doors USA’s 2018 “World Watch List,” an annual report that extensively documents anti-Christian atrocities across the globe.
David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, told Faithwire about the ins and the outs of the latest report, which was released on Wednesday, noting that North Korea ranks for the 16th year in a row as the worst place to live as a Christian.
The top 10 countries on this year’s “World Watch List” ranking from worst down the line can be seen below (you can also see the top 50 countries where it is “most dangerous to follow Jesus” here):
Curry also broke down what he views as the most “disturbing” development in this year’s report — and it involves women, whom he said are perhaps the most vulnerable population on Earth right now.
“The most disturbing trend we’ve seen .. is the increased attacks on Christian women,” he said, noting that, each day, six women are sexually harassed, forced into marriage with Muslim men and raped. “That is particularly shocking this year.”
The 2018 report documented 2,260 assaults against women, though Curry cautioned that this number only reflects the documented cases. Open Doors estimates that the number is “only a fraction of those actually raped and harassed in this way.”
Curry told Faithwire that “Islamic extremism” is the main persecution driver in all of the top 10 countries aside from North Korea.
“We have a culture that is infiltrated with extremism,” he said. “In Somalia, just the accusation that you might be a Christian could get you beheaded, so it’s no exaggeration to say that is life or death for people in many of these countries.”
While extremism is at potent as ever, there was at least one area of decline in the number of people who were martyred for their faith — a number that was cut in half from two years ago due to the ongoing pushback against ISIS. That pushback has constrained some of the terror group’s actions, though Curry warned that their ideology is still “alive and well.”
“We’re not done with this radical ideology,” he added.
Curry is hoping that the World Watch List will be used to help “direct us toward where justice and religious freedom are most needed so that everyone can decide for themselves what they believe.”
Check out the complete Open Doors report here. Data in the report was collected from researchers across the globe between Nov. 1, 2016 through Oct. 31, 2017.