WASHINGTON – Nine out of the ten countries ranked the most oppressive for Christians to live in were due to Islamic extremism, according to Open Doors' annual World Watch List, which was released Wednesday.
With the exception of North Korea – ranked No. 1 for the 12th year in a row – every other country on the top 10 list had as its source of persecution, Islamic extremism. North Korea's persecution of Christians was due to communist oppression and dictatorial paranoia, explained Open Doors in its 2014 World Watch List. According to the report, the countries with the most extreme persecution besides North Korea are: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran, and Yemen, respectively.
Open Doors announced the rankings for its 2014 World Watch List, which documented the 50 nations least tolerant of their Christian population, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The Christian persecution watchdog group's methodology involved measuring the level of Christian freedom found in five spheres of life: private, family, community, national, and church. A sixth sphere regarding degree of violence also factors in to the rankings. more >>
The uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was allegedly stripped naked and fed alive along with five aides to 120 starving dogs, according to a gruesome but disputed report that is circling the world's media.
"Unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang [Song Thaek] was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called 'quan jue,' or execution by dogs," wrote the Straits Times of Singapore. It based its story on a detailed account from December in the Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Wei Po. NBC News and other major media have now reported on it.
Jang was executed last month after he was deemed a traitor and accused of trying to overthrow the ruling government. North Korean officials removed him from his position as No. 2 in the country and accused him of participating in corruption, gambling, womanizing, and drug use while visiting a foreign country. more >>
A conservative online publication has recently claimed that Syrian rebel forces are beheading Christians to drain their blood and sell it to Islamist radicals.
Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily reportedly talked with a nun in Syria via Skype who detailed for him the allegation.
"Sister Hatune Dogan told WND in a Skype interview that members of the Syrian opposition are draining the blood of Christians they behead and selling vials to Islamic radicals for $100,000 a piece," wrote Corsi. more >>
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reached out to Christians over the Christmas holiday in three visible ways. But Christian leaders have denounced his "hollow words."
In a Christmas statement, Rouhani "wished a new year full of cooperation, peace, security and tranquility for the Christians," Fars News reported. He also reached out to Christians through his Twitter account, proclaiming, "May Jesus Christ, Prophet of love & peace, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry #Christmas to those celebrating, esp Iranian Christians."
But some were wary of his seemingly friendly words especially as Christians, including Iranian American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, continue to be persecuted. more >>
What was the world like in 2013 for the planet's most marginalized and vulnerable communities?
1. Syria's Civil War more >>
Uganda has voted in favor of a bill that would make "aggravated homosexuality," including repeated gay acts, punishable by life imprisonment, and threaten jail for those who fail to report gay people.
While homosexuality was already illegal in Uganda, MP David Bahati, who was behind the bill, sought to strengthen existing laws.
"This is victory for Uganda. I am glad the parliament has voted against evil," said Bahati, according to AFP news agency. "Because we are a God-fearing nation, we value life in a holistic way. It is because of those values that members of parliament passed this bill regardless of what the outside world thinks." more >>