Worst Persecutors of the Church Named for 2023

Scott Morgan on February 9, 2024

Advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) has made available to the public its report on the worst persecutors of the church in the year 2023.

The report assumes a similar approach to the U.S. State Department in its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) and Special Watch List (SWL) designations. The main difference, however, is that the ICC report documents the worst persecutors of Christians worldwide and breaks them down three ways: by country, entity and individuals.

The countries listed as the worst persecutors are Nigeria, North Korea, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, Algeria, Eritrea, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.

Nigeria, India and Indonesia, while listed by ICC as persecutors of Christians, were not designated as CPCs by the State Department, nor were they placed on the SWL.

On January 24, 2024 reports emerged that at least 31 Christians were killed by Fulani Militants in Plateau State, Nigeria. It should come as no surprise that ICC listed the Fulani as an entity that persecutes Christians.

Also in January, a French media outlet reported that Hindu extremists were ruthlessly hunting down Christians in several states and driving them out of their communities based on anti-conversion legislation. One of their leaders was profiled in the report and details will be forthcoming. 

Pertaining to Indonesia, in the most recent World Watch List released by Open Doors, the country placed 42nd out of 50 countries where Christians face persecution. Indonesia is known to practice a conservative version of Islam.

The entities listed by ICC included the Allied Democratic Forces, Al-Shabaab, Fulani Militants, Sahel Terror Groups, The Taliban and Tatmadaw.

The Allied Democratic Forces is one of the militant groups active in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. On January 30, an attack near the town of Beni resulted in the death of eight people, and an additional 30 people kidnapped by the group. 

Al-Shabaab has been listed as an Entity of Particular Concern (EPC) by the State Department for their activities in Somalia and Kenya. 

The Taliban has conducted a brutal campaign against Christians since reassuming power in Afghanistan in August 2021. Since then, the Church has been forced to go underground and is largely cut off from the rest of the world.

The Tatmadaw, or the Armed Forces of Myanmar, seized control of the country after a military coup three years ago. A report by the Centre for Information Resilience has documented that the Military of Myanmar has destroyed 107 religious buildings, with 67 churches among that total, in Chin State alone since the coup. The fighting in Chin State is most severe as it was the first state to actively resist the junta. 

The five people listed as the greatest individual persecutors of Christians in the world include: Yogi Asityanath, Isaias Afrwerki, Recep Tayip Erdogan, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un. 

Asityanath is the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh which is the current epicenter of the Hindu targeting of Christians.

President Afwerki of Eritrea oversees a country where repression is normal policy.

President Erdogan of Turkey has supported the Azerbaijani effort to ethnically cleanse the Armenian Christian community in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Erdogan has also intervened in the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Northern Iraq promoting an Islamist Ideology. 

Both President Xi of China and Kim Jong Un of North Korea perceive Christianity as a direct threat to their rule. In China, the Church has been co-opted by the Communist Party. While, for several years, North Korea has been considered the most dangerous place to be a Christian. 

Some of these countries, entities and individuals, according to the State Department, have not met the criteria for a designation under the International Religious Freedom Act. That fact is a matter of serious concern, as the persecution is blatant.

  1. Comment by Tim Ware on February 9, 2024 at 8:20 am

    According to the Associated Press, Israel has killed approximately 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinian Christians make up 2% of the population. Extrapolating from that, Israel has killed about 560 Christians, which means it certainly deserves to be included on this list.

  2. Comment by Giles Caver on February 9, 2024 at 8:37 am

    Tim Ware, to be fair, I suspect that AP was quoting Hamas, which runs Gaza’s health ministry and publishes its unverified and very likely inflated and politicized body counts. I also suspect that its body counts include Hamas’ Islamist fighters, not many of who I suspect are Christians. This said, if Christians are aiding and abetting Hamas’ terror, then they deserve their fates this side of Heaven.

  3. Comment by David on February 9, 2024 at 2:21 pm

    If one looks at the genetics of the Middle East, Jews, Palestinians, and especially Lebanese, have much in come with ancient Canaanites. Following revolts and wars in the Roman period, many urban Jews were expelled from the area or sent into slavery. Palestinians were likely rural Jews who remained. It would be ironic if Palestinians lost their biblical right to their land by initially converting to Christianity.

  4. Comment by Giles Caver on February 9, 2024 at 4:53 pm

    David, speaking of ironies, Israel is home to 180,000 Christians, twice as many as live in Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli Christians are overwhelmingly Arab and both the men and women are among the most educated Israelis. Sadly, Christians have not fared as well in most of the Middle East, where they — like the Jews — have suffered persecution, expulsions and pogroms from the early days of the Ottoman Empire to now. Perhaps not ironically, under Hamas’ Islamist misrule, the Christian population has fallen dramatically, almost to the point of extinction.

  5. Comment by David on February 10, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    *common

  6. Comment by Giles Caver on February 12, 2024 at 9:05 pm

    David, that’s it? I must say I’m disappointed in you, Whatever. See you on the other side, sport.

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