Holy Bible as symbol of Christianity even as Christians face persecution for their faith around the world

Most Dangerous Countries To Be a Christian 2024 (Nigeria Is No. 6)

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North Korea remains the most dangerous country to be a Christian for the second consecutive year. Christians in the Asian country are either intimidated to renounce their religious beliefs or are locked in cells and subjected to inhumane treatment for their faith.

Takeaways:

  • The top 20 places are exclusively dominated by Asia (12 countries) and Africa (8 countries)
  • It is better to be a Christian in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia than in Nigeria
  • Somalia is the worst country in Africa to be a follower of Jesus Christ
  • Nigeria is the fourth African country dangerous to be a Christian, behind Somalia, Libya, and Eritrea, the report says.

According to Open Door’s World Watch List 2024, 4,998 people were killed for faith-related reasons in 2023.

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The data further reveals that 1 out 5 Christians are persecuted in Africa, two out of five in Asia

Sympathizers gather outside St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, after Islamic extremists killed over 40 worshippers on the alter Sunday, June 5, 2022.
Sympathizers gather outside St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, after Islamic extremists killed over 40 worshippers on the altar Sunday, June 5, 2022. Photo credit: ICIR

Here is the list of 20 places where the lives of Christians are at risk:

1) North Korea

  • Population of Christians: 400,000
  • Dominant religious belief: Agnosticism
  • 2022 Population: 26,160,821
  • Continent: Asia

It is not the first time North Korea has occupied the first position as being the riskiest country for Christians.

Out of over 26 million North Koreans, the research estimates the Christian population to be 400,000 while the highest population of the country is Agnosticism.

It is difficult for Christians to gather for religious worship because of the fear of persecution they face.

For instance, five members of the same family were arrested when they gathered for prayer and Bible study in May 2023.

The report says that literature books for Christians are either confiscated or damaged as some of the ways to discourage adherents of such faiths.

It was gathered that the isolated country strengthened its border with China to even make it more difficult for Jesus’ followers to flee or get support.

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2) Somalia

  • Population of Christians: 1,000 (estimate)
  • Dominant religious belief: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 18,143,378
  • Continent: Africa

Even as the population of Christians in Somalia is estimated to be 1,000, about 0.01% of the country’s population, their lives are still in danger.

A militant group al-Shabab is also said to target the Christian population in the country. Over time, the militant group has vowed to eliminate Christians from the country.

Those who convert from Islam to Christianity are treated like an outcast and they face harassment from family members, making Somalia the most dangerous place to be a Christian on the African continent

3) Libya

  • Population of Christians: 35,100
  • Dominant religious belief: More than 97% are Muslims
  • 2023 Population: 6,888,388
  • Continent: Africa

4) Eritrea

  • The population of Christians: 1.7 million
  • Dominant religious Belief: Evenly divided
  • Overall Population: 3,748,901
  • Continent: Africa

In Eritrea where the population is evenly divided between Christianity and Islam, Christians are reportedly facing attacks from their Muslim brothers, in a move to suppress them.

5) Yemen

  • Population of Christians: Between 2000-4,000 (USIP estimate)
  • predominant religious Belief: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 34,449,825
  • Continent: Asia

6) Nigeria

  • Population of Christians: 103 million (Open Doors estimate)
  • Dominant religious Belief: 53.5% Muslims
  • 2023 Population: 223,804,632  (estimate)
  • Continent: Africa

Christians in the Muslim-majority north are either at risk of attacks or terrorized by Islamic militants, according to the U.S.-based NGO Watch List 2024.

Remains of victims of Owo Church Attach which occurred at  St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo State. More than 40 people were killed by Islamic extremists, denting Nigeria’s image as a dangerous place for Christians to practice their faith. Photo credit: ICIR
Remains of victims of Owo Church Attach which occurred at  St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo State. More than 40 people were killed by Islamic extremists, denting Nigeria’s image as a dangerous place for Christians to practice their faith. Photo credit: ICIR

The most recent incidence of an attack against Christians in Nigeria is the Owo Church attack, where Islamic extremists opened fire on Catholic worshippers on Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Owo, Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria. More than 40 Christians were killed.

In the Middlebelt, such as Plateau and Benue, there are media reports of invasions in communities that are Christian-dominated areas.

One such heinous attack occurred on Christmas Eve 2022, resulting in the death of more than a hundred people.

Although authorities describe it as a rivalry between herders and farmers, attacks on communities in these locations persist.

There have also been cases of attacks by extremists on mosques in the core Northern states of Borno, Adamawa, and Katsina, making it difficult to categorize such attacks solely against Christians.

While the government’s efforts to stop killings have been inadequate due to centralised policing, some foreign media believe that Nigeria is among countries that are in a state of war.

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7) Pakistan

  • Population of Christians: 4.2 million
  • Dominant religious belief: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 240,485,658
  • Continent: Asia

8) Sudan

  • Population of Christians: 2 million
  • Predominant religion: More than 91% Muslims
  • 2023 Population: 48,109,006
  • Continent: Africa

9) Iran

  • Population of Christians: 1.2 million
  • Predominant religion: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 89,172,767 
  • Continent: Asia

10) Afghanistan

  • Population of Christians: A few thousand
  • Dominant religious belief: 99% Muslims
  • 2023 Population: 42,239,854
  • Continent: Asia

Preaching other faiths exposes the preacher to arrest and attacks in  Afghanistan.

For instance, two Afghans and two aid workers were arrested for preaching Christianity in the western Herat province on August 9, 2010.

There have been reported cases of NGO workers who were either deported or held in police cells for publicly preaching their faith.

Giving a Bible or Christian-related pamphlet is considered taboo. Shoaib Assadullah Musawi was a victim of this oppression, as he was jailed in November 2010 for giving the New Testament to a friend who reported him to the authorities.

Afghanistan remains one of the countries dangerous to be a Christian. According to the International Christian Concern, a non-partisan Christian organization, there are currently estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000 Christians in the country.

11) India

  • Population of Christians: 71 million
  • Predominant religious belief: Hindus
  • 2023 Population: 1.4 Billion
  • Continent: Asia

Christians are not the only group that is attacked in India because of their faith, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs face similar attacks from Hindu extremists who believe that Indians ought to be Hindus.

12) Syria

  • Population of Christians: 579,000
  • Dominant religious belief: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 23,227,014 
  • Continent: Asia

13) Saudi Arabia

  • Population of Christians: 2.2 million
  • Dominant religious belief: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 36,947,025
  • Continent: Asia

It is extremely difficult to convert from Islam to Christianity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

14) Mali

  • Dominant believers: More than 94.84 percent of Muslims
  • Population of Christians: 497,000 (estimate)
  • 2023 Population: 23,293,698
  • Continent: Africa

15) Algeria

  • Predominant religion: 99% Sunni Muslims 
  • Population of Christians: 144,000
  • 2023 Population: 45,606,480 
  • Continent: Africa

According to the U.S. Department of State, more than  99% of Muslims in Algeria are Sunni Muslims.

The remaining population face intense pressure for their religious beliefs. Church leaders are either arrested or face threat, Open Doors says.

16) Iraq

  • Predominant religion: More than 95% are Muslims
  • Population of Christians: 154,000
  • 2023 Population: 45,504,560
  • Continent: Asia

Iraq’s Christian community continues to face humiliation and threats from Islamic State.

Christians in Iraq also face extreme discrimination at job places, some are abused and face forced marriages by Islamic extremists.

17) Myanmar

  • Dominant religious belief: Buddhism
  • Population of Christians: 4.5 million
  • 2023 Population: 54,577,997 
  • Continent: Asia

Buddhism is the dominant religion in Burma, they make more than 90 percent of Buddhism, subjecting other religious beliefs to inferiority and exposing them to attacks.

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Most of the Christians in the country are predominantly found among ethnic groups such as the Chin, Kachin, and Karen peoples, Firebrand Magazine report says.

Specifically, a community that is dominated by Buddhists make life miserable for their Christian brother ans sister.

18) Maldives

  • Predominant religious belief: Islam
  • Population of Christians: Over 1,000
  • 2023 Population: 521,021
  • Continent: Asia

While Open Doors didn’t specifically state the population of Christians in Maldives, a 2013 research by Oxford University scholar Felix Wilfred estimated that the number of Christians in Maldives was 1,400 or 0.4%, roughly split between Catholic and Protestant.

The persecution in this country pushes makes husband and wife, and their children to be secretive about their faith.

Additionally, “Foreign Christians are forbidden from sharing their faith with Maldivians, and their gatherings are strictly monitored,” the report says.

19) China

  • Predominant religious belief: Confucianism 
  • The population of Christians: 96.7 million
  • 2023 Population: 1.409 billion
  • Continent: Asia

Only 6.86% of Chinese are Christians and they are at risk of attack. The population of the most populated Asian country dropped by 2.08 million, or 0.15%, to 1.409 billion in 2023.

Even while the number of Christians in China is more than the population of some countries, Churches are compelled to register or face prosecution.

20) Burkina Faso

  • Predominant religious belief: Islam
  • 2023 Population: 23,251,485
  • Continent: Africa

In the 2023 Watch List, Mauritania occupied the 20th position, which has now been taken by Burkina Faso, showing the worst environment for Christians in the West African country.

More than 63 percent of the population are Muslim, according to the 2019 census, 9 percent maintain exclusively Indigenous beliefs, while the rest are either Roman Catholic or other Protestant groups.

What the United Nations Says About Religious Belief

The 1981 Declaration of the General Assembly of the United Nations Human Rights
Article 1 (1) says that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice.”

Our Thought

We hope to see a world where everyone is free to express their views about their faith openly. The world deserves a society where everyone can communicate with their creator through their faith.

We hope to see a world where everyone is convinced that everyone deserves freedom of religion and faith without being intimidated or subjected to ridicule.

No religion is superior to the other; this is something everyone should uphold. Religious persecution should have no place in the world.

Featured image:

  • By Priscilla-du Preez

Author

  • InfomediaNG

    The Infomediang Team comprises a group of researchers, data analysts, and financial experts who closely follow government policies and spending. Our passion lies in empowering people to make informed decisions about their investments by simplifying data for easy understanding. Find us @infomedia_ng on X.

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