Other countries listed in the WWL's Top 10 include: Turkmenistan, Maldives, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and China. Myanmar and China are newcomers to the Top 10; Myanmar was ranked 13th last year and China 11th. No. 12 Pakistan (sixth last year) and No. 11 Somalia (ninth last year) fell out of the Top 10.

Iran climbed five places compared to the 2003 list, rising from No. 10 to No 5. The change is primarily due to a considerable increase in the number of Christians being arrested and held without trial for their religious beliefs during the past year. In December, a large number of Christians with an Islamic background were also physically harmed in connection with their newfound faith.

Numbers 11-25 on the World Watch List are: Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Comoros, Sudan, Uzbeistan, Yemen, Eritrea, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Nigeria (North), Libya, Morocco, Cuba and Brunei.

Rounding out the list are numbers 26-50: Colombia (conflict areas), Qatar, Tunisia, Russian Federation (Muslim republics of Chechnya, Kabardino Balkarya, Dagestan and Tatarstan), Mexico (Chiapas), Tajikistan, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Indonesia, Algeria, Nepal, Turkey, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Kurdistan, Oman, Kuwait, Belarus, Jordan, Bangladesh, Syria, Bahrain and Malaysia.

The status of religious freedom deteriorated in Eritrea, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. In Eritrea, the government began actively applying a law that prohibits the practice of "new religion," and hundreds of evangelical Christians have been imprisoned. In fact, Eritrea made the biggest jump of any country in the Top 50, going from No. 34 in 2003 to No. 18 this year.

 

In India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, the freedom to evangelize and to change religions is coming under fire. Anti-conversion legislation has already been implemented in several states in India, and attempts are being made to introduce it in Sri Lanka.

 

Open Doors founder Brother Andrew reinforces the importance of praying for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith: “Of course we need to continue to pray for them every day. We need to feel their pain and their joy…many of them have been discriminated against or have spent time in prison or live in terrible poverty. Keep informed about what is happening in these countries thousands of miles away. Too many people are ignorant of what is taking place in the world today. And if the Lord speaks to you and tells you to ‘Go,’ then obey his command.”

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