Fact Sheet: 2018 Open Doors World Watch List

The Open Doors World Watch List is the only comprehensive annual survey of religious liberty conditions for Christians around the world. It is a global indicator of countries where human and religious rights are being violated, and those countries most vulnerable to societal unrest and destabilization. From Nov. 1, 2016, to Oct. 31, 2017, researchers measured the degree of freedom a Christian has to live out his or her faith. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world, and the daily life of Christians in the nations on the Open Doors World Watch List has become increasingly difficult.

Open Doors World Watch List researchers define the persecution of Christians as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Christ; this includes imprisonment, torture, beheadings, rape, loss of home and assets, and even death. The top findings from this year's research include the following:

  • North Korea remains the most difficult and dangerous place in the world to be a Christian for the 16th consecutive year, ranking No. 1 on the Open Doors World Watch List.
  • One in 12 Christians in the world today experiences high, very high or extreme persecution for their faith. In Africa it is one in eight, and it is one in four in Asia.
  • In the countries on the Open Doors World Watch List, approximately 215 million Christians face high, very high or extreme persecution, with 113 million of those living in Asia.
  • Of the 50 countries on the Open Doors World Watch List, 30 saw an increase in persecution during the reporting period.
  • The countries where persecution increased the most are Egypt, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkey.
  • Nepal and Azerbaijan are newcomers to the list, and Comoros and Tanzania fell off the list.
  • Pakistan had the most violence recorded against Christians.
  • Islamic extremism remains the global dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 out of the 50 countries on the list.
  • The 2018 Open Doors World Watch List documented 2,260 women who were raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim under threat of death—a number that only covers those who had the courage to report such an incident and is estimated to be a mere fraction of those actually raped and harassed in this way.

A complete methodology for how the Open Doors World Watch List is calculated is available at OpenDoorsUSA.org.

About Open Doors USA

For more than 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted. Christians are one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.

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