The Seven Most Restrictive Countries in the World

Religious Persecution Around the World

1. NORTH KOREA

No one is allowed to be a Christian in North Korea. Both North Korean borders are closed, and everything going in or out is strictly checked. Executions are done in secret, and the number of people sentenced to labor camp or prison has increased from last year.

2. SAUDI ARABIA

The kingdom is ruled by Sharia-law, a strict interpretation of the Koran. Those who convert from Islam can be executed, and many times family members of the accused carry out the honor killing. Public non-Muslim worship is prohibited and is punishable by imprisonment, deportation, and torture.

3. IRAN

Iran cracked down on house churches in 2008 with fifty Christians reportedly imprisoned for their faith. At least one Christian couple died after interrogation by government officials, due to injuries and stress from the captivity. The Iranian Parliament revised their apostasy law, making converting from Islam punishable by death only. While Christianity is an officially protected religion, Christians are not allowed to witness to Muslims, and many church services are monitored by secret police.

4. AFGHANISTAN

Because of intense pressure from the Taliban movement, it is nearly impossible to have an active church in the country. Christians have no protected rights and face government persecution when their faith is publicly known. One Christian aid worker was killed because the Taliban believed she was spreading Christianity. Despite this, Christianity is spreading in Afghanistan.

5. SOMALIA

Somalia has no working government, and Islamic Somali warlords rule with force. At least ten Christians were killed for their faith in 2008 and these are just known instances.

6. MALDIVES

In the archipelago of the Maldives, Islam is the official state religion and all citizens must be Muslims. A unified religion is seen as an important part of maintaining the government’s power. The government does not allow importation of any religious literature, apart from a single copy for personal use. Christians live in total secrecy.

7. YEMEN

The Yemeni Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but it also declares that Islam is the state religion and that Sharia is the source of all legislation. Expatriates are allowed to practice Christianity, but any Yemeni citizen may be executed for converting from Islam. 

Source: Open Doors World Watch List 2009

 

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