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7 of the Top Persecutors of Christians Around the World

May 8, 2017 by Joshua Pease in

The persecution of Christians is increasing year over year. Across the globe, more than 215 million believers face intimidation, prison—even death—for their faith in Jesus Christ. That’s one in twelve Christians worldwide.

While religious persecution is spread over many countries, there are some areas where the hostility is particularly intense. These pockets of concentrated persecution are due to the focused efforts of either one person or a larger belief system bent on smashing or squeezing out Christians in the region.

The list below highlights some of the greatest human rights offenders toward Christians. The list is not comprehensive or in particular order, and there are many more who could be added.

We share this list not to stir up anger—although righteous anger is expected—but to move us all toward prayer and action. Jesus commanded us, directly, to pray for our enemies. So please use this list as a powerful prayer tool.

As Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors says, no door is closed to the power of prayer. Through prayer, we have the ability to move beyond borders and into the very presence of our enemies…

Pray that God would stop their actions, change their hearts and shine the brilliant light of the gospel onto their path—much like He did with the apostle Paul, one of the most aggressive persecutors in the time of the early church.


For nearly 2,000 years, Christianity has had a presence in countries like Iraq; however, the brutal and targeted attacks from ISIS have driven many Christians to flee these areas. Ten years ago, there were nearly 1 million Christians living in Iraq, with a large majority of the population living in Mosul. Today, there are a just few dozen in that city. ISIS is also destroying Christian churches and monuments that have existed for over a millennia. They are, in effect, trying to wipe out evidence that Christians were ever there. Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi is the current leader of ISIS in western Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

Learn more about ISIS…


While ISIS has been in the news lately, Al-Qaeda has continued to fight in countries throughout the Middle East, often marking Christian communities as specific targets. In countries like Yemen, Christian converts from Islam are particularly vulnerable as they are already treated as outcasts by their own communities. As Al-Qaeda takes advantage of distracted governments, Christians in their path experience intense persecution. Ayman al-Zawahiri, is the current leader of Al-Qaeda.

Read more about Al-Qaeda…

Kim Jong-un

North Korea has for years been one of the worst persecutors of the Christian church. Kim Jong-un has only increased this terrible legacy, continuing the nation’s policy of outlawing any practice of the Christian faith. Prayer, church meetings and owning a Bible are all against the law, with violators being sent to prison camps, or even facing the death penalty.It’s because of this that North Korea is the #1 worst persecutor of Christians in the world according to the 2017 World Watch List.

Read more about North Korea…

Hindu Nationalists

The far-right Hindu nationalist movement in India seeks to wipe out any religious expression, including Christianity, that falls outside of the Hindu religion. The movement’s mission is to make India a complete Hindu nation by 2021. The predominant Hindu nationalist association is referred to as the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). This movement has created a culture war and made it very dangerous and difficult for many Christians living in the region who are often forced out of villages, beaten and arrested for their Christian faith.

Read more about Hindu nationalists…


The radical Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab is in many ways the Eastern African version of al-Qaeda (a group they once had an uneasy union with). Al-Shabaab has terrorized the country of Somalia for the past decade and is recently focusing its attacks on the neighboring country of Kenya. In 2015,  a Kenya college campus faced an attack where Christian students were specifically targeted, killing 148 in total. Any place al-Shabaab controls operates under Sharia law, which includes the slaughtering of anyone who identifies as Christian.

Read more about Al-Shabaab…

Boko Haraman extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria

Boko Haram made global news when it kidnapped over 200 girls from a local school (when the world took notice and responded with #BringBackOurGirls); however this was nothing new for the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group who have kidnapped thousands of people, many who are children.

The word “haram” means forbidden, and Boko Haram’s belief is that any sort of Western influence is heresy, especially Christianity. To this end, Boko Haram has conducted raids, bombings and assassinations against any target it deems Western, especially churches and schools. They have taken out contracts on influential Christian leaders and are also at war with the Nigerian government.

Read more about Boko Haram…

Drug Cartels

In Colombia and Mexico, drug cartels are prevalent in certain parts of the country. On top of the danger that these groups bring to ordinary citizens, Christians are specifically targeted.

“A soul won for Jesus is a soul lost for them,” shared one pastor from Colombia. “They know that too.”

For this reason, Christian evangelists are particularly targeted. Drug cartel leaders know that they are the greatest threat to their way of life.

Read more about drug cartels…

The Ultimate Enemy

It’s easy to read this list and feel hopeless in the face of so much evil. However, in Ephesians 6 we’re told our war isn’t a physical war, it’s a spiritual one. Behind all of the atrocities listed above is Satan, who prowls this world as a roaring lion.

But we are also told that God’s kingdom is forcefully advancing, and that in the end, Satan is overthrown and all things are made new.

So as we pray against the evil mentioned in this article, we can also pray hopefully that God’s kingdom would come, and His will would be done. Here on earth now, and then in completion for eternity.


Open Doors is on the front lines and provides on-the-ground access to our brothers and sisters in Christ who face severe persecution in these regions. Stand with them. 



22 responses to “7 of the Top Persecutors of Christians Around the World”

  1. 1, 2, 5, and 6 are Islamic groups engaged in Jihad against infidels. Let’s stop beating around the bush and call a spade a spade. It is the bloodthirsty “religion” of Islam that is the #1 enemy and #1 persecutor of Christians in the world, not only today but for the last 1400 years. Islam is an antichrist ideology that seeks to dominate the entire world. The West can never prevail against an enemy that we refuse to even call by name.

    “Islam is a totalitarian ideology that aims to control the religious, social and political life of mankind in all its aspects — the life of its followers without qualification, and the life of those who follow the so-called tolerated religions to a degree that prevents their activities from getting in the way of Islam in any manner.” – Ibn Warraq

    • There is one country where Hindus are majority, and they have a far-right group. There are 56 Islamic countries, 1.5 billion people, many of them have been subjected to betrayal and abuse by Europe and America. I am not defending Islam but ignorant people like yourself from both sides are the reason we cannot make progress.

      • Ignorance is in not recognizing that Islam (Koran) requires all its members to use all means to conquer those who
        do not believe in the Koran. Acceptable means include violence as well as stealth, procreation, lying, and deceit.
        Rewards include plunder and rape. In countries where Muslims are in minority, violence is mostly avoided until
        they come into majority. Christianity and most other religions promote their faith by means of love.

        • “Christianity and most other religions promote their faith by means of love.” — True, so glad that there has never been a time when radical christian/jewish/hindu/buddhist groups did terrible things in the name of their religion. Talk about ignorance.

          • If a person claiming to be a Christian does terrible things like lying, deceit, murder, plunder and rape, they do it AGAINST the tenets of their faith, which forbids it. They are then not following Christ, which action defines the word Christian. If a Muslim does those things to non-Muslims, it is not only acceptable to their faith, aka the Koran, it is encouraged and to some extent required. Their prophet set the example. Currently, there are about 3 dozen Muslim training camps, some training with weapons, in the USA. With current projected birth rates, Muslims are projected to reach majority status in the USA by 2050. Then comes Sharia law and the big push.

      • Obviously you haven’t read the Quran. There’s 109 versus demanding death or torture to non believers. These sick individuals didn’t pull this idea out of their hat. Ignorance is bliss. READ!

        • The Talmud teaches that gentiles should be slaves to jews, but I don’t see you ranting about it. Same goes for some Hindu teachings. I am not upholding the Quran as a reliable source of morality. However, I am appalled by the insinuation that we should wage war on Islam in specific. I lived in Kuwait, a muslim country, for quite a while and have great peace loving muslim friends. Nonetheless, hate cannot be fought with hate, but with love.

          • If I belonged to ANY group who killed people who didn’t believe what I did, JUST ONE DEATH would be a wake up call that something isn’t right. Wake the F up

          • The Talmud is NOT scripture!!! You may as well be quoting from the Koran or the Book of Mormon!!!

          • The Talmud does not teach that gentiles are supposed to be slaves to Jews. That would be the Bible, because the Isrealites were not allowed to take other Isrealites as slaves.

            That means that it IS scripture.

          • Nope only the Holy Bible is scripture. Plus slavery among the Old Testament Israelites was not the same as slavery Pre-Civil War or slavery among Muslims. They were treated more like family than slaves. The Talmud is merely the opinions of various Jewish Rabbi’s about what the Torah means. It is not God breathed. It contains no Prophecy. It was not written by Prophets or the Apostles of Christ. Jesus never referred to the Talmud only various books of the Old Testament. You and others like you who want to add it to Scripture only do so to justify your sin and rejection of the true Jesus Christ.

          • “The Talmud teaches that gentiles should be slaves to jews, but I don’t see you ranting about it.”
            False. Nonsense.
            It’s nice that you have great peace loving Muslim friends. Is this somehow relevant in a world where one billion muslims acting as nation states and as military groups and as para-state actors and as invididuals are comitting daily atrocities, unmerited atrocities, unprovoked atrocities, against each other and against non-muslims, at the state level, the community level, at the paramilitary level, at the individual level? All in the name of Islam. Justified by Islam. Only the communist states and the drug cartels have comparable levels and manners of atrocities in these times. Christianity is and has been in all times of history infinitesimal in comparison. Judaism is and has been at all times infinitesimal in comparison. Same for the Hindi. But I’m glad you have some nice Muslim friends.

      • Nicole it is ignorant people like yourself who don’t realize that the first hostile warfare against the newly formed United States was by the Islamic Ottoman Empire. They considered the US as infidels and fair game for piracy and slavery. The second line of the US Marine anthem commemorates this event. As for Islam itself many people all over the world know of the Intolerance practised by Islamic countries. When you talk about progress, ignorant people should realize that the Middle East was the Cradle of Civilization and home of many advanced civilizations until Islam destroyed them.

      • “There are 56 Islamic countries, 1.5 billion people, many of them have been subjected to betrayal and abuse by Europe and America.”
        False. Nonsense.
        Nicole, is your college degree from the the department of arts, or of the humanities?

  2. RSS is for Hindu culture. Hindu is a name given to a geographical Area of Sindhu river, area called Hind in Arabic and Persia and India by the British and rest of Europe. Hindu religion as is now known does not exist as a rigid system. Its amorphous and is Dharma that comes from ages and hence Sanatana. No text of Shastras has the name Hindu. British codified laws and called them Hindu Laws just as Mohammedan law. Culture of accepting many faiths is part of Indian culture. In a small Island town of Port Blair in Andamans there are 17 denominations of church. Acceptable. Immigrants to USA should adopt to US life. So are others. Acceptability and respect for others is a test for immigrant text book religions.
    I have friends amongst Christians and Muslims, Jains and Buddhists. There are problems. But are social and not religious.

  3. While I agree that Christians are being targeted and persecuted…what about the persecution of Christians toward many other groups…such as Muslims? Right now, in America, people of the Muslim faith who have nothing to do with the groups mentioned in the article, are the subject and target of bullying and persecution by those who claim to be Christians. Call a spade a spade, yes. But that also includes those of us who claim to be Christian yet are prejudice toward those who don’t look like we do or believe like we do. I’m sorry, but as a Christian, this article angers me because it aims a certain amount of hatred toward other religious groups…the extreme forms of religious groups. Extreme forms of Christianity also exist…which are just as dangerous and damning as the entities listed in this article. Be careful to claim innocence among Christianity. If I read my Bible correctly, fight, yes. But fight with the love of Christ. Not with the sword of religion…

  4. I believe everything will be used for good. I feel very thankful for every miracle I have seen. We have so much to look forward to. I also feel thankful that God continues to surround me with invisible and visible love.

  5. There are many atheist, pagan and satanic groups/organizations here in the U.S. who are enemies of we who believe in JESUS. They are seeking to have us destroyed.

  6. Don’t forget the Inquisitions by the Vatican and Roman Empire. That was all about hunting down and killing Christians that wouldn’t stay with the Catholic version because many learned the real truth about them. God and Jesus gave us free will and the Catholics are against that. They want total control over the little people no matter what it takes. Why they are so into politics now rather than the true faith.

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