Around 340 million Christians were “heavily persecuted” in the world in 2020, a phenomenon that is constantly growing and has been aggravated by the pandemic of coronavirus. The finding is the result of a report by the NGO Portas Abertas, published on Wednesday (13) in France.
“Persecuted Christian minorities have faced unprecedented violence and increased discrimination. Covid-19 has broadened the trends that we have seen for several years,” writes the Protestant NGO when presenting its annual list of 50 countries where Christians are at the center of their sights.
Some 340 million Christians – Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Baptists, Evangelicals or Pentecostals – were “heavily persecuted”, compared to 260 million in 2019, reports the NGO, which records the attacks, from “discreet daily oppression” to “more violence” extreme “. “This represents 1 Christian in 6 in Africa and 2 in 5 in Asia,” says Patrick Victor, director of France Open Doors, which ensures that the numbers are “below reality”.
The causes of this extreme or very strong persecution in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle East are linked to “religious nationalism”, particularly in Asia, and “Islamic extremism that is spreading” in Africa.
Nigeria tops ranking of Christians “killed by faith”
The number of Christians killed increased by 60%, from 2,983 to 4,761 last year. “More than 90% in Sub-Saharan Africa”, points out Victor. For the sixth consecutive year, Nigeria leads “the countries where most people have been killed for their faith” (3,530 dead), ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo (460) and Pakistan (307).
In contrast, the NGO notes that the number of churches attacked (closings, attacks, damage, fires) has halved (4,488) compared to 2019. China tops this list with 3,088 attacked temples (against 5,576 in 2019), ahead of Nigeria. “In China, as in India, the persecution of Christians is systematic and even systemic,” says Victor.
Faith in God is a crime in North Korea
The number of Christians detained for their faith increased to 4,277, against 3,711 in 2019, with about half in Eritrea (1,030) and China (1,010). But if you take into account all types of persecution, North Korea, where “faith in God is a crime against the regime”, according to the NGO, leads the world ranking, followed by Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan and Eritrea .
“There are no strictly religious reasons behind the persecutions. They can be related to religious nationalism, like in India or Turkey, to state control, like in China, or to organized crime and drug cartels like in Colombia and Mexico”, summarizes the association.
(With information from AFP)