by Peter Grady –
After 10 years of American blood being shed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two countries are ranked in a top 10 list of countries with religious persecution.
Open Doors USA, an organization dedicated to helping Christians stand strong in the face of persecution, is set to release its 2012 World Watch List on Jan. 4. The list features the 50 countries with the worst record of persecution of Christians.
The list is compiled by using indigenous contacts, field workers and persecuted believers and is based on answers to a 50 question questionnaire covering various aspects of religious freedom.
The questions are designed to differentiate between the legal, official status of Christians and the actual situations in everyday life. For instance, many governments may guarantee religious freedom in their Constitutions, but in reality the government allows persecution to take place.
The persecution can take various forms; for instance, Christians may not have the freedom to print literature, meet publicly or run for political office and they may be forced into prison or labor camps and even put to death for their faith.
For the past 10 years, North Korea has been number one on the list. This is no surprise as Kim Jung II, who died last week, viciously oppressed and murdered Christians, who do not even have the right to exist in the country.
In 2010, officials discovered a house church in the Pyungsung province and three Christians were immediately sentenced to death simply for meeting, while another 20 were sent to a labor camp.
Incredibly, Iraq and Afghanistan, countries which United States invaded at a cost of over 4,900 dead, both made the top 10 list. Afghanistan was number three. Iraq came out at number eight on the list.
U.S. troops pulled out of the country last week, leaving a void that many predict will be filled with civil war and possible incursions by Iran. The country’s Shiite and Sunni Muslim populations are at each other’s throats.
Four days after the U.S. withdrawal, a series of explosions ripped through Baghdad killing at least 69 people.
Christians in the country are becoming even more fearful now that the U.S. presence is gone.
Prior to the U.S. invasion under President Bush, the Christian population of the country was estimated at around 1 million. After 8 years of war by both the Bush and Obama administrations, it has been estimated that only 300,000 remain. The Christian population is caught in the middle between the Shiite and Sunni factions vying for power.
In Afghanistan, a country which American soldiers liberated from the Taliban, the situation is not much better. The country does not recognize any of its citizens as being Christians and converting to Christianity is illegal.
The New York Times reported earlier this year that Christians under Sharia law face severe persecution that can include death.
“Afghanistan’s Constitution, established in 2004, guarantees that people are ‘free to exercise their faith,’ But it also leaves it open for the courts to rely on Shariah, or Islamic law, on issues like conversion. Under some interpretations of Shariah, leaving Islam is considered apostasy, an offense punishable by hanging,” the story said.
In order to show that Sharia law which includes laws against blasphemy and supporting honor killing has no place in America, several states have attempted to pass legislation declaring that Sharia cannot be used in court decisions.
Muslim groups have vigorously opposed these attempts saying banning Sharia laws amounts to religious discrimination.