(JNS.org) Primarily because of Islamic extremism, the Middle East remains the most violent area in the world for Christians, according to a new report on global persecution of Christians by Open Doors USA.
According to the report, which surveyed religious liberty conditions for Christians from November 2013 to October 2014, more than 100 million Christians are being persecuted for their faith—and Islamic extremism is the main driver of the persecution.
“Even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion, discrimination, and violence,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are being forced to be more secretive about their faith.”
The report singled out the Middle East as the most dangerous region for Christians. Both Iraq and Syria, countries plagued by violence led by jihadist groups like the Islamic State, were ranked in the top five (Iraq 3rd and Syria 4th) among 50 countries that have the highest incidence of persecution of Christians. Iran was 7th on that list, and the disputed Palestinian territories were also ranked in the top 50 by the report.
“The number of Christians is diminishing and the influence of radical Islam is growing,” the report said of the Palestinian territories.
“Dynamics of Christian persecution in the Palestinian territories are complex,” added the report. “Christians are squeezed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; their ethnicity entailing many restrictions from the Israeli side and their religion putting them in a minority position within the Palestinian community.”
According to the report, Christian converts from a Muslim background are the most persecuted group in the Palestinian territories, followed by all local Christian-background believers (historical Christians and non-traditional Protestants) in Gaza.