Human Rights Watchdog Releases Hall of Shame List

A Washington-based rights group has listed India as one of world's ten worst persecutors of Christians.

International Christian Concern on Thursday released its annual Hall of Shame report that calls attention to the trend of Christian persecution around the globe.

India is ranked with countries such as Eritrea, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and China where religious freedom has been suppressed and atrocities persisting on an alarming scale.

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According to the report, India remains on the top ten worst persecutors list "due to constant violent attacks against Christians."

"Sources indicate that in 2009, there was an average of three attacks per week against Christians. Although attacks are not comparable in intensity with other top ten countries, the scope of persecution in India is widespread and affects millions of believers," the report stated.

It cited the 2008 Orissa violence where dozens of Christians were murdered and over 50,000 were displaced following the murder of a Hindu leader.

"Many Christians in Orissa are still unable to return to their homes due to threats issued by Hindu radicals forcing their conversion to Hinduism as a condition for their return. These Christians continue to suffer in refugee camps that lack housing, sanitation and food," ICC said.

In addition to violence, Christians also face discrimination from state and local officials.

"The states of Gujarat, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh enforce anti-conversion laws which restrict the freedom of Hindus to convert to other religions."

ICC President Jeff King laments that the persecution of Christians has become a common occurrence and is rarely reported by the mainstream media.

"Due to their faith, Christians endure harassment, discrimination, deportation, imprisonment, rape, torture, murder and other forms of persecution," he said.

Interestingly, the report says Communist and former Communist states are becoming less antagonistic towards Christianity (North Korea being the exception). However, persecution continues to increase in Islamic countries.

Last year, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom placed India on its Watch List for the country's inadequate response in protecting religious minorities.

The federal commission's watch list consists of countries with governments that tolerate "serious violations of religious freedom."

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