This week, the U.K.-based Christian persecution organization Release International announced its prediction of where Christian groups are likely to face the worst persecution in the upcoming year.
In the unsurprising list, both North Korea and China are predicted to be the most dangerous countries for Christians in 2012.
Although the recent death of Kim Jong-il sparked hopes that North Korea might loosen its tight grip on its populace and allow access to basic human rights such as freedom of religion, the group expressed that it has little hope that the plight of Christians under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un will be eased.
In fact, the organization found that since the death of Kim Jong-il, Christians in the country have been facing increased levels of suspicion by government forces. The government is fearful that Christians represent a political opposition to their otherwise undisputed leadership.
In China, Christians face similar concerns, with religious freedoms in the country hitting an all-time low since 1982, according to Bob Fu of China Aid.
Within China proper, the organization warns that the Chinese political capital of Beijing, as well as several provinces surrounding the capital, will likely serve as “hotspots” for Christian persecution.
Furthermore, the government is currently evaluating the passage of a new law that would legalize the detention of people considered a threat to national security. Thus, Christians in China may find themselves living in precarious circumstances if deemed a threat to Chinese security.
Other hotspots to look out for according to the organization include Iran, India, Pakistan, Algeria, and Nigeria.
In Iran, India, and Pakistan, Rescue International warns that the worrying trend of persecuting those who change their faith- “apostasy”- is taking hold.
In Iran, this has been best witnessed in the case of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity.
The group has expressed fear that in Nigeria, where Christmas Day bombings occurred this year for the second year in a row, terror sect Boko Haram will attempt to create a breakaway Islamic state in northern Nigeria, where Nigeria's Christians are most prevalent.
For 2012, Release International reported that it fears the situation for Christians globally could worsen in regions where Christian persecution is already rife.
“Across the world, the number of Christians imprisoned for their faith looks set to increase in 2012,” said CEO of Release International Andy Dipper.