Nigeria, North Korea are nations most persecuting Christians, says advocacy group

Photo: REUTERS / Joe Penney
A church is seen guarded by soldiers behind sandbags, in Maiduguri, Nigeria May 23, 2014. Christian houses of worship are guarded by military soldiers at all times in Maiduguri.

The two countries where Christians face most persecution are Nigeria and North Korea, says International Christian Concern, the U.S-based group that monitors religious persecution says in a new report.

The 2023 report, found online at includes Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims are nearly equally represented, atheist-state North Korea, India, where Hindu nationalism is growing, in its group of top persecutors.

And it includes groups like, the Allied Democratic Forces, Al-Shabab, Fulani Militants, Sahel Terror Groups, The Taliban, and Tatmadaw (Burmese Army).

The names cited are Hindu extremist, Yogi Adityanath; Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and North Korea's Kim Jong Un among others.

It is not only Christians who are endangered. In India, Hindu nationalists threaten Muslims as well as Christians

"The 2023 Persecutors of the Year Report is a resource designed to support and protect Christians regardless of denomination or sect, but it also supports all religious peoples that are denied their God-given right to religious freedom," says Jeff King, President of ICC.

Christian persecution in isolated and North Korea, an atheist state, has long been known about internationally, but its prominence in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.


Wikipedia says Christianity arrived to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal.

By 2020 Christianity accounted for an estimated 46.18 percent of the Nigerian population; two-thirds of whom are Protestant, according to the Pew Research Canter.

Nigeria's population was estimated by the United Nations to be around 213 million.

"It's the mass, it's the numbers of deaths," he said about Nigeria's ranking atop the list. In addition, he said an estimated 3.5 million Christian farmers in the country have been displaced or had their farms taken.

ICC's King said that the split in Nigeria between a Muslim-dominated north and a Christian-dominated south could lead to a civil war and subsequent displacement of population that would "dwarf any refugee crisis we've had in modern history."

"It's the mass, it's the numbers of deaths," he said about Nigeria's ranking atop the list. In addition, he said an estimated 3.5 million Christian farmers in the country have been displaced or had their farms taken.

He said that in Nigeria alone, 100,000 Christians have died as a result of religious persecution in the past 20 years.


In June, Vatican News had reported that more than 50,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since the outbreak of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in 2009.

It cited a report titled "Martyred Christians in Nigeria" published by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), a Nigerian-based research and investigative rights group.

The group has monitored and investigated religious persecution and other forms of religious violence by state and non-state actors across Nigeria since 2010.

According to its findings, over the past 14 years at least 52,250 Nigerian Christians have been brutally murdered by Islamist militants.

Of them, more than 30,000 were slain during the eight-year presidency of former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, often criticized during his tenure for not doing enough to combat growing insecurity in the country said Vatican News.

In the same period 18,000 Christian churches and 2,200 Christian schools were set ablaze. Approximately 34,000 moderate Muslims also died in Islamist attacks, according to the report.

Christians face life risks not only from the Islamist Boko Haram group, but also from the likes of ethnic Fulani Muslim herders who have joined Islamist extremist groups.

The attacks have led to mass forcible displacement of about 5 million Christians forced into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps within Nigeria and refugee camps at regional and sub-regional borders, says Intersociety.


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