Open Doors uses extensive and comprehensive quantitative and qualitative methods to ensure the robustness and credibility of its data. Unfortunately, the list for 2020 draws a dire picture of the global situation for Christians. Christians are not the only ones who suffer in the hands of other ideologies or religions, but do so in a disproportional way. The World Watch List reveals new dynamics and trends that need to be watched more closely and given more priority, as we are facing a tremendous human rights violation on a global scale.
Increase of global persecution of Christians by 30,7%
The new data reveals an enormous increase in the number of Christians, who face persecution worldwide. The number went up from about 260 million Christians to 340 million people. 309 million Christians were killed, tortured, imprisoned, threatened or abused because of their belief. The range of perpetrators is wide, as it can be the state itself, society or the family, or even all at the same time. In numbers this means that 1 out of 8 Christians is severely persecuted because of his or her belief. In all of the 50 countries the persecution level is considered to be „very high“, in 12 of the 50 countries the level of persecution is even considered „extreme“. An „extreme“ level implies a severe threat to the livelihood and security of Christians in various forms.
The Covid-19 crisis worked as a catalyst, intensifying existing oppression.
Christians from West Africa to Yemen suffered discrimination in access to Covid relief. In India, 80% of those receiving aid from OD partners were excluded in official distribution.
There was an increase in domestic vulnerability during lockdown, particularly Christian converts and women. Reports about kidnapping, forcible conversion and forced marriage of women and girls increased.
Islamic militants increased violent attacks across Sub-Saharan Africa, exploiting the inability or unwillingness of governments to protect vulnerable communities.
Nigeria (#9) entered the top 10 as extremist groups such as Boko Haram and Fulani militia constantly attacked Christian communities during 2020.
In Nigeria, more Christian men and boys were killed by jihadists during Covid restrictions. Women and girls were often abducted for enslavement.
Nationalism driven by religious identity continued to rise in countries such as India and Turkey.
In India (#10), the government’s message remains: ‘To be Indian, you must be Hindu.’ Mobs continued to attack Christians and Muslims.
Turkey (#25) has taken on a more aggressive role in the conflicts in the wider surrounding region, impacting Christian communities in Iraq, Syria and Libya.