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Report: Islamic Oppression Fuels Two-Thirds of the Worst Persecution Against Christians

a world map with the worst countries for Christian persecution in red, orange, and yellow.

The Islamic State (ISIS) may be on the run in the Middle East, but Islamic oppression continues to fuel persecution of Christians across the world.

Open Doors USA released its 2018 World Watch List this month, and out of the 50 worst countries for Christian persecution, "Islamic Oppression" inspires persecution in 33. Worse, it drives oppression in eight of the eleven countries where Christians face "extreme" persecution, according to the list.

North Korea's Communist regime may be the worst state for persecuting Christians for the 16th consecutive year, but the main story in Christian persecution is Islamic oppression.

The Open Doors report listed three "major trends" in Christian persecution, and Islamic oppression ranked number one. "Islamic oppression is one of the most widely recognized sources of persecution for Christians in the world today—and it continues to spread—aiming to bring many parts of the world under Sharia law," the report stated. "The movement, which often results in Islamic militancy and persecution of Christians, is expanding in Asia (Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia) and Africa (Egypt, Nigeria, Somalia)."

Other forces proved notable as well. Religious nationalism fosters persecution in 5 countries — India (11), Myanmar (24), Nepal (25), Bhutan (33), and Sri Lanka (44).

Dictatorial paranoia inspires persecution in Eritrea (6), Uzbekistan (16), Turkmenistan (19), Tajikistan (22), Kazakhstan (28), and Azerbaijan (45) — many of these Muslim-majority countries as well. Communist and post-Communist oppression fosters the worst Christian persecution in the world in North Korea (1), but it has a similar effect in Vietnam (18), Laos (20), and China (43). Finally, organized crime and corruption foster a degree of persecution in Mexico (39) and Colombia (49), according to Open Doors.

How does Islamic oppression feed Christian persecution? The Open Doors report revealed three levels of persecution: "extreme persecution," "very high persecution," and "high persecution." Muslim ideologies inspire each kind. To be clear, this report does not suggest all Muslims hate or oppress Christians, or that all forms of Islam necessarily entail persecution.

1. "Extreme persecution."

Open Doors identified eight Muslim countries that use Islam to foster "extreme persecution" against Christians: Afghanistan (2), Somalia (3), Sudan (4), Pakistan (5), Libya (7), Iraq (8), Yemen (9), and Iran (10).

These Muslim-majority countries have two major forces of persecution: state laws against proselytizing and conversion, and social pressure against any convert from Islam.

"Because all Christians in Afghanistan are essentially converts, they are unable to express their faith, even in private. Converts can experience loss of personal property and businesses, beatings, and even death at the hands of their own family members and communities," the report explained. Afghanistan's Islamic Republic does not allow conversion from Islam.