The following is a list of frequently asked questions about the World Watch List. If you have a question that is not on this list, please contact us.
How are Christians in particular being persecuted in countries like Syria and Mali where there is unrest throughout the country?
Christians in countries like these are often the targets of Muslim extremists because their faith is in direct opposition to their cause. You can learn more about each country at www.worldwatchlist.us.
Why did Syria rise from number 36 to number 11, is it mainly due to the state of the civil war in the country?
Based on our media research, we can confirm 89 killings of Christians in Syria during our reporting period. With tens of thousands of Christians having fled the country, abductions, rapes, physical harm taking place, so that clearly explains the fact that Syria has risen so much in its ranking.
The African country of Mali was unranked last year but No. 7 this year. Why the dramatic jump?
The situation changed for the worse in 2012 following the capture of the northern part of the country by Tuareg separatists rebels and Islamists fighters and the proclamation of the creation of the independent state of Azawad in the north. Islamists soon established an Islamic state with a Shariah regime in the north. Christians were driven out and churches burnt. There is widespread concern Mali is becoming a jihadist hub.
How is the methodology developed?
The methodology is based off of an expert questionnaire that is organized around the five main spheres of life. A full explanation of the methodology is available on the website.
Why has North Korea Ranked #1 for 11 years?
It is illegal to be a Christian in North Korea and Christians are often sent to labor camps or are killed if they are discovered. The conditions in this country have remained the worst in the world for Christians for the past 11 years.
Are these the only countries where Christians are persecuted?
There are more than 65 countries where Christians are persecuted. These are just the top 50.
Do the countries on the World Watch List experience persecution throughout the country?
Not always. Countries like China have areas where there is virtually no persecution and areas where there is persecution. However, in some countries like North Korea, there is persecution throughout the country.
Many of the countries on the list are have a predominantly Muslim population- why is that?
Christians tend to face persecution in Muslim dominated countries by Muslim extremists. In a few countries like Saudi Arabia (where conversion from Islam is punishable by death), persecution comes from the government. Christians in each country face different forms of persecution, which you can learn more about on each country page. For more information on our rankings, go to the methodology section of the website.
Some of these countries have large Christian populations, yet they remain on the list. Why is that?
There are countries on the list which have a rather large Christian population and remain on the list for numerous reasons. In countries like Colombia, Christians face persecution from rebel groups in certain parts of the country. While non-Christians also experience violence from these groups, Christian leaders are specifically targeted because many people have left the rebel groups after coming to Christ. The church is often seen as a threat by these groups because of this and is often attacked because of it.
How many Christians are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ?
Giving an exact number or even trying to estimate how many Christians are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ is not possible. However, we can confirm that Christians are persecuted for their in Jesus Christ in over 65 countries around the world. The reason the WWL is produced each year by Open Doors is to track the degree of persecution in each country and bring awareness to the public of the persecution. For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in some of most restrictive and dangerous country in the world, coming alongside those suffering with Bibles and Christian materials, training, social-economic help, prayer and advocacy.
What is A Muslim Background Believer (MBB)?
A Muslim Background Believer (MBB) is a Christian who comes from a Muslim Background. Often these Christians face persecution from Muslim family members, who observe a strict form of Islam.