10 January, 2015
An international religious group has released its list of the worst countries for Christians to live in. As in past years, North Korea was at the top of the list. But for the most part, the greatest threat to Christians came from an extreme form of Islam.
Damaris Atsen lives in Nigeria.
"So on their way home, he met with the Boko Haram!"
She remembers how supporters of the Muslim militant group Boko Haram stabbed her husband to death.
"I was hopeless. I said, ‘My life is useless!'"
Her story was presented at the release earlier this month of an annual list of countries said to be most dangerous for Christians. The list is a project of the Christian missionary group Open Doors.
David Curry is president of Open Doors USA. He says Islamic extremism was the main threat to Christians in Nigeria and most of the other 50 countries on the list.
"The world still does not get it. The persecution of Christians is real, it is horrifically violent."
David Curry says the mistreatment of Christians is a serious issue.
"The persecution of Christians is a bellwether for the other human rights issues. When people begin to attack people for the expression of their faith, you see the rest of the societal issues start to pop up."
In Iraq, militants have also targeted Muslims - both Shia and Sunni. But Nina Shea of the Center for Religious Freedom says the persecution of Christians in Iraq is different.
"There will be - we can be sure - a Sunni and a Shi'ite presence when peace returns to Iraq someday. We can't be sure that there will be a Christian presence.
The group Open Doors was founded in the 1950s to smuggle Bibles to people behind what was known as the Iron Curtain. Its members worked to secretly send copies of Christianity's holy book to the Soviet Union and its communist allies.
Today, for the 13th time in as many years, North Korea tops the list of worst countries for Christians. There, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is presented to the North Korean people as god-like.
I'm Anne Ball.
This report was based on a story from VOA reporter Jerome Socolovsky. Anne Ball wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
stab - v., to wound (someone or something) with a pointed weapon (such as a knife)
annual - adj., happening once a year
persecution - n., to treat (someone) cruelly or unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs
smuggle - v. to move (someone or something) from one country into another illegally and secretly
communist - adj., a person who believes in communism or is a member of a political party that supports communism
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