by WorldTribune Staff, April 16, 2017
More than 215 million Christians worldwide face heavy persecution, the majority of whom reside in Middle Eastern nations, a new study said.
One in 12 Christians today experiences high, very high or extreme persecution for their faith, according to Open Doors USA, a nonprofit organization focused on serving persecuted Christians.
The top underlying cause for persecution of Christians is Islamic extremism, according to Open Doors.
Open doors said the top 10 countries in which Christians are persecuted are North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Eritrea.
Egypt ranks No. 21. According to the Christian advocacy group. This past Palm Sunday, Islamic State (ISIS) bombings at two Coptic Christian churches, one in Alexandria and the other in Tanta, left 45 people dead and many more wounded.
From Nov. 1, 2015, to Oct. 31, 2016, Open Doors compiled reports that did not include statistics from North Korea and large areas of Iraq and Syria.
Open Doors also documented a total of 1,329 churches attacked worldwide for faith-related reasons, with 600 of those attacks in Pakistan alone.
The Christian population in Iraq alone has plummeted from 1.5 million in 2003 to current estimates of 275,000. In a few years that number could be zero, activists say.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends in Christianity, estimates that between the years 2005 and 2015, an average of 90,000 Christians each year were killed because of their faith.