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Persecuted Christians: ACN, almost 300 million in 21 countries – the faith group most susceptible to violence

Almost 300 million Christians in the world – one in seven – live in a “persecution country”, and Christians continue to be the religious group most susceptible to violence, arrest, and human rights violations. This is according to the 14th Religious Freedom Report compiled by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), presented at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See in Rome today, and simultaneously, in 23 other ACN offices across the world. The Report, which covers the time period June 2016/June 2018, shows an increase in violations of religious freedom in many countries. Indeed, “significant” or “extreme” violations were recorded in as many as 38 countries. Of them, 21 were ranked as “Persecution countries”: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Burma, China, North Korea, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. Another 17 were ranked as “Discrimination countries”: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Brunei, Egypt, Russian Federation, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam. In 17 out of the above-mentioned 38 countries, the situation deteriorated, while it remained unchanged – because it was already so bad – in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. It is there where persecution “shows its most brutal face”, Alfredo Mantovano and Alessandro Monteduro, respectively president and director of ACN-Italy, wrote in the introduction to the Report. By contrast, a sudden drop in violence perpetrated by the al-Shabaab Islamist group allowed Tanzania and Kenya – ranked as “Persecution countries” in 2016 – to join the “Unclassified” group in 2018.

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