Worthy Christian News » Saudi Arabia Once Again Leads the World in Christian Persecution…As Well As Oil Production

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Posted in: Christian Persecution - Middle East

The desert kingdom tops the Open Doors "World Watch List," which ranks countries according to their level of Christian persecution

By Dan Wooding

SANTA ANA, CA (February 7, 2000) — Saudi Arabia has once again taken the dubious distinction of being the country where Christians are more severely persecuted than any other in the world. This was revealed in the January 2001 release of the Open Doors "World Watch List" (WWL), which ranks countries according to their level of Christian persecution.

"Saudi Arabia is well known as the world's largest oil producer, but this country, which considers itself as the 'guardian' of Islam's two most holy sites, Mecca and Medina, has also consistently topped our semi-annual ranking, and other surveys agree," said Terry Madison, U.S. President and CEO of Open Doors USA, the ministry that was started 45 years ago by Brother Andrew, "God's Smuggler."

Madison went on, "According to 'Religious Freedom in the World,' published by Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, 'No freedom of religion exists in Saudi Arabia. Islam is the official religion, with all citizens required to be Muslims. Any citizen who converts from Islam to another religion faces the death penalty by beheading for apostasy.'

"Government restrictions also sharply curtail the religious activities of non-Saudi guest workers."

Madison said that Saudi Arabia was closely followed on the WWL by Afghanistan, where the Taliban's extreme enforcement of its brand of Islamic law not only threatens "apostates" with death but also anyone who attempts to "proselytize."

Madison, who has made more than 40 trips to China, said that this country was also highly ranked, despite the large number of "official" churches operating in the world's most populous nation.

A government crackdown on the Falun Gong movement received the most public exposure worldwide, but "underground Christians were also targeted," the WWL report stated, citing accounts of Christians being arrested and unofficial church buildings being destroyed.

The list's top 10 contains a mixture of regimes dominated by either fundamentalist Islam or remnant communism. Other Islamic-dominated countries among the top 10 were Turkmenistan, Iran, Egypt and Maldives. Besides China, also sharply curtail the religious activities of non-Saudi guest workers."

Madison said that Saudi Arabia was closely followed on the WWL by Afghanistan, where the Taliban's extreme enforcement of its brand of Islamic law not only threatens "apostates" with death but also anyone who attempts to "proselytize."

Madison, who has made more than 40 trips to China, said that this country was also highly ranked, despite the large number of "official" churches operating in the world's most populous nation.

A government crackdown on the Falun Gong movement received the most public exposure worldwide, but "underground Christians were also targeted," the WWL report stated, citing accounts of Christians being arrested and unofficial church buildings being destroyed.

The list's top 10 contains a mixture of regimes dominated by either fundamentalist Islam or remnant communism. Other Islamic-dominated countries among the top 10 were Turkmenistan, Iran, Egypt and Maldives. Besides China, communist-dominated countries included Laos, North Korea and Vietnam.

"With the complexities that surround Christian persecution, including how it is defined and problems caused by social, ethnic and geographic factors, our WWL report acknowledges room for variances within the rankings," said Madison.

"Nevertheless, any country or region ranked in the top 20 must be considered as a severe persecutor, even though freedom of Christian worship may be present in varying degrees. This includes regions such as South Sudan, where civil war continues unabated, and Christians and churches are often directly targeted or dominated through forced conversion and slavery."

For more information on the ministry of Open Doors, write:
Open Doors with Brother Andrew, PO Box 27001, Santa Ana, CA 92799 or call: (949) 752-6600.
The Open Doors USA Web site can be found at www.opendoorsusa.org.

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