(by Chiara Rancati).
(ANSAmed) - PARIS - Persecutions against Christians increased in 2013, with spikes in Africa and in Arab Spring countries, according to the Worldwide Index on Persecution released Wednesday by Portes Ouvertes (Open Doors), an evangelical Protestant NGO. The annual index ranks the world's 50 most repressive countries towards Christians. North Korea tops the list, the sole country deserving the qualification of ''total persecution''. It is followed by Somalia and Syria, where civil wars have given free rein to Islamic militias. The situation in the latter has deteriorated greatly, according to Portes Ouvertes.
''Christians have become extremely vulnerable due to the civil war and to the growing influence of jihadists among the opposition forces, and are subjected to pressures linked to their religious faith in every aspect of their lives''. Syria is first in the world in terms of Christians killed (1,213, followed by Nigeria with half that amount), fourth in terms of violent episodes of persecution (83), and third in terms of churches destroyed (78). The Syrian civil war is also ''destabilizing neighboring countries, such as Iraq and Jordan'', and causing ''the situation throughout the Middle East to become ever more polarized, with an ever more radicalized Islam''.
Another country of concern is Egypt, which has been in a constant state of upheaval since the 2011 ousting of former dictator Hosni Mubarak. In 2013, the land of pyramids was first in the world in terms of violent acts of persecution (167) and destruction or closure of churches (492). The situation on the ground is worse than it appears in the data, because of the way it is compiled: ''The August 2013 attack on dozens of Christian churches and shops in Egypt is counted as a single act of persecution'', the NGO explained in its report.
A newcomer to the index is the Central African Republic, which ranked 16th due to the ''terrible violence'' unleashed after an alliance of mostly Muslim rebels seized power in the predominantly Christian country in a March 2013 coup. ''As in Mali last year, the Central African Republic shows how a relatively stable country can rapidly slide into chaos, and how a Christian population can suddenly find itself facing violence on a genocidal scale'', the NGO wrote. (ANSAmed).
North Korea, Egypt, Syria, among worst Christian persecutors
According to annual report by Portes Ouvertes NGO
(by Chiara Rancati).