Muslim Statistics (Persecution)

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This page contains statistics concerning the persecution of non-Muslims. For further statistics of a similar nature, see Terrorism, Homosexuals and Antisemitism. For statistics covering the persecution of Muslims, see Crime & Prejudice.


Five of the nations ranked least peaceful in the world by the Global Peace Index are Islamic countries. Please note, the GPI does not take violence against women and children into consideration.[1]

Country 2010 Rank 2010 Score 2009 Rank 2009 Score 2008 Rank 2008 Score 2007 Rank 2007 Score
Flag of Pakistan.png Pakistan 145 3.050 137 2.859 127 2.694 115 2.697
Flag of Sudan.png Sudan 146 3.125 140 2.922 138 3.189 120 3.182
Flag of Afghanistan.png Afghanistan 147 3.252 143 3.285 137 3.126
Flag of Somalia.png Somalia 148 3.390 142 3.257 139 3.293
Flag of Iraq.png Iraq 149 3.406 144 3.341 140 3.514 121 3.437[2]

In 2010, 8 of the top 10 persecutors of Christians were Islamic countries.

Despite Communist North Korea topping the annual Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) for the ninth consecutive year, the most dangerous countries in which to practice Christianity are overwhelmingly Islamic ones.

Of the top 10 countries on the 2011 WWL, eight have Islamic majorities. Persecution has increased in seven of them. They are Iran, which clamps down on a growing house church movement; Afghanistan, where thousands of believers cluster deep underground; and Saudi Arabia, which still refuses to allow any Saudi person to convert to Christianity.

Others are lawless Somalia, ruled by bloodthirsty terrorists threatening to kill Christian aid workers who feed Somalia’s starving, impoverished people; tiny Maldives, which mistakenly boasts it is 100 percent Islamic; Yemen with its determination to expel all Christian workers; and Iraq, which saw extremists massacre 58 Christians in a Baghdad cathedral on Oct. 31.

Of the top 30 countries, only seven have a source other than Islamic extremists as the main persecutors of Christians.

The top 10 in order are North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Laos, which has a Communist government. Iraq is new to the top 10 list while Mauritania dropped out, going from No. 8 to No. 13.[3][4]
January 2011

A Christian is murdered every five minutes for their belief.

Introvigne [a sociologist of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)] reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.
. . .

Egyptian diplomat Aly Mahmoud said that in his country laws have been passed that will protect Christian minorities, for example, prosecuting those who give speeches that incite hatred and banning hostile crowds outside churches.

"However, the danger is that many Christian communities in the Middle East will die from emigration, because all Christians, feeling threatened, will flee," he said.

The diplomat suggested Europe prepare for "a new wave of emigration, this time from Christians fleeing the persecutions."[5]
June 2011

In 2011, 9 of the top 10 persecutors of Christians were Islamic countries.

Muslim nations make up nine out of the top ten countries where Christians face the “most severe” persecution, and 38 of the top 50, reports U.S.-based Open Doors in its 2012 World Watch List.

Topping the list is North Korea, where the Stalinist regime enforces cult worship of its leaders.
. . .
What’s more, a decade’s worth of Open Doors surveys shows that “the persecution of Christians in these Muslim countries continues to increase,” the group’s Dr. Carl Moeller reports.
. . .

Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan complete the Open Doors Watch List’s top ten persecutors of religious minorities – in that order after North Korea.[6]
January 2012
North Korea tops the list for the 10th straight time as the country where Christians face the most severe persecution, while Islamic-majority countries represent nine of the top 10 and 38 of the 50 countries on the annual ranking.

Afghanistan (2), Saudi Arabia (3), Somalia (4), Iran (5) and the Maldives (6) form a bloc where indigenous Christians have almost no freedom to openly worship. For the first time Pakistan (10) entered the top 10, after a tumultuous year during which the nation’s highest-ranking Christian politician, Cabinet Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated for his attempts to change the blasphemy law.

The rest of the top 10 is composed of Uzbekistan (7), Yemen (8) and Iraq (9). Laos was the lone country to drop from the top 10 list, falling to No. 12 from No. 10.

While persecution has worsened due to persecution by Muslim extremists, without question North Korea once again deserves its No. 1 ranking.
. . .
There are significant moves on the World Watch List, including Sudan moving up 19 spots to No. 16 – the biggest leap of any country from 2011. Nigeria jumped 10 spots to No. 13. Egypt, racked by violent protests and upheaval during the Arab Spring, rose four positions to No. 15. Increased Islamic extremism triggered the upward movement of Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

“Being a Muslim Background Believer or ‘Secret Believer’ Christian in a Muslim-dominated country is a huge challenge. Christians often face persecution from extremists, the government, their community and even their own families,” said Moeller. “As the 2012 World Watch List reflects, the persecution of Christians in these Muslim countries continues to increase. While many thought the Arab Spring would bring increased freedom, including religious freedom for minorities, that certainly has not been the case so far.”[7]
January 2012

Muslim-majority countries score worst for religious freedom and social hostilities involving religion.

Muslim-majority countries score worst across a range of measures in a comprehensive new study tracking government restrictions on religion as well as social hostilities involving religion around the world.

The study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, released Tuesday, found that nearly one-third of the world’s population lives in countries where religion-related government restrictions or social hostilities rose significantly between mid-2006 and mid-2009.

Geographically, the Middle East/North Africa region boasted the largest proportion of countries – 30 percent – where official restrictions on religion increased over that three-year period.

Digging deeper, the 117-page report reveals that countries belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dominate many of the most serious measures tracked at the end of the survey period in mid-2009.

Seven of the ten countries with the highest – that is, worst – grades when it comes to government restrictions on religion were OIC countries – Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Maldives, Malaysia and Indonesia. The other three were China, Burma and Eritrea.

Of the 10 countries on that benchmark index, six are designated by the U.S. government as “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

A separate index in the Pew report graded countries according to levels of social hostility involving religion. Eight of the top ten countries in that index were Muslim-majority states – Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Egypt. The other two, India and Israel, have Hindu and Jewish majorities respectively, and large Muslim minorities.

In an index measuring official interference with religious practice, 18 out of 26 countries (69 percent) whose government “prohibits worship or religious practices of one or more religious groups as a general policy,” were OIC members – Brunei, Chad, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The other eight were Burma, China, Eritrea, Laos, Madagascar, Monaco, Tuvalu and Vietnam.

A grading of countries where conversion from one religion to another is restricted was also dominated by Islamic states, accounting for 25 out of 29 countries listed (86 percent). They were Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Comoros, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The four non-Muslim countries were Eritrea, India, Israel and Vietnam.

Taking the conversion issue a step further, among 13 countries where there were incidents of physical violence over conversions from one religion to another, 10 (77 percent) were Muslim – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Comoros, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. The other three were India, Mongolia and Nepal.

Sixteen out of 26 countries/territories where “religion-related terrorist groups” perpetrated violence that resulted in ten or more injuries or deaths” were OIC members – Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Yemen

The 10 non-Muslim countries were Central African Republic, China, Congo, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Nepal, Philippines, Russia and Sri Lanka. (The report does not provide a breakdown of actual attacks, but in at least some of those countries – India, Israel, the Philippines and Russia – terror activity is largely attributed to Islamist groups.)

Blasphemy, ‘defamation’

The Pew report also examined the issue of “defamation” of religion, tracking countries where various penalties are enforced for apostasy, blasphemy or criticism of religions.

“While such laws are sometimes promoted as a way to protect religion, in practice they often serve to punish religious minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox or heretical,” it said.

It found 21 Muslim countries in that category – Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Western Sahara and Yemen.

The study also found 23 non-Muslim countries where penalties are enforced for such criticism of religion – Austria, Brazil, Burma, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, India, Italy, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

“Eight-in-ten countries in the Middle East-North Africa region have laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion, the highest share of any region,” it said. “These penalties are enforced in 60 percent of the countries in the region. In Europe, nearly four-in-ten countries (38 per cent) have such laws and nearly a third (31 per cent) actively enforces them.”

The report did not, however, draw a distinction between the types of penalties enforced in Muslim and non-Muslim countries for breaching these laws.

A study by Human Rights First, released last March, documented more than 70 cases in 15 countries where the enforcement of blasphemy laws resulted in problems of various kinds since 2007.

Of the 70 cases, only four were not in Muslim countries. They were in Austria (where a woman was fined for “denigrating” Islam during a lecture); India (where nine people were charged over a magazine article said to have injured the sentiments of Hindus); Sri Lanka (where a convert from Buddhism to Islam was accused of offending Buddhism); and Poland (where a provocative rock star was accused of insulting religious sentiments in the predominantly Catholic country).

By contrast, the vast majority of the cases documented in the report took place in Islamic countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan – and included lengthy prison terms and the imposition of the death penalty, as well as extrajudicial retribution such as mob attacks and killings.


One country that did not feature in the Pew survey’s country scores was North Korea – not because it is not a problem, but because of difficulties obtaining accurate information in the reclusive Stalinist state.

“The sources clearly indicate that the government of North Korea is among the most repressive in the world with respect to religion as well as other civil liberties,” the report said. “But because North Korean society is effectively closed to outsiders, the sources are unable to provide the kind of specific and timely information that the Pew Forum coded in this quantitative study.”

The religious freedom advocacy group Open Doors has listed North Korea at No. 1 on its annual World Watch List of countries most hostile to Christians for the past nine consecutive years.

The rest of the top 10 on its 2011 list were Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Laos. Apart from communist Laos, all are OIC member-states.[8][9][10]
August 2011

In 2012, Islamic countries, including Turkey, comprised 12 of top 16 'worst persecutors'.

Today, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Uscirf) released its 14th annual report, which it is mandated to do under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The report identifies the world's worst persecutors and makes foreign-policy recommendations, which are non-binding, to the administration and Congress. Its decisions are based on the agency's visits to foreign countries, and a wide array of other sources, including the State Department' s own excellent annual compilation of worldwide religious-freedom violations. The commission is distinctive because it is an independent federal agency, and it is to make its name-and-shame lists and policy recommendations unburdened by foreign-policy considerations other than the defense of religious freedom.

This year, Uscirf named 16 countries as the most egregious and systematic religious freedom violators in the world and recommended them for official "Country of Concern" (CPC) designation by the U.S. State Department. They are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, (north) Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

I thought Afghanistan should be on the list as well and said so in my dissent, which is excerpted further down in this column.

Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Mandeans, Ahmadiyas, Rohingya Muslims, Yizidis, Alevis, Shiite and Ismaili Muslims in Saudi Arabia, African traditional believers in Sudan, Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, Sufi Muslims, Pakistani Hindus, independent Buddhists in Vietnam, Cao Dai, and many others groups and individuals are persecuted in these 16 countries. They suffer arrest, torture, imprisonment and even death for religious reasons, as well as other pressures. All these groups are covered in the Uscirf report.

Christians are far from the only religious group persecuted in these countries. But, Christians are the only group persecuted in each and every one of them. This pattern has been found by sources as diverse as the Vatican, Open Doors, Pew Research Center, Newsweek, and The Economist, all of which recently reported that an overwhelming majority of the religiously persecuted around the world are Christians. Globally, this persecution is experienced by all Christian faith traditions from Pentecostal and evangelical to Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox.[11][12]
March 2012

Secular study finds that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, and Muslims are their biggest persecutors.

Christianity is in serious danger of being wiped out in its biblical heartlands because of Islamic oppression, according to a new report from a leading independent think-tank.

But Western politicians and media largely ignore the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the wider world because they are afraid they will be accused of racism.

They fail to appreciate that in the defence of the wider concept of human rights, religious freedom is the “canary in the mine”, according to the report.

The refusal of young Christians in the West to become “radicalised” and mount violent protests against the attacks on their faith also helps to explain the “blind spot” about “Christianophobia” in influential liberal Western circles.

The report, Christianophobia, written by journalist Rupert Shortt and published by Westminster think-tank Civitas, lays bare the scale of the vendetta against Christians across the globe.

They are more likely to be the target of discrimination or persecution that any other religious group and they are particularly at risk in Muslim-dominated societies. Oppression is magnified by anti-Americanism and the false belief that Christianity is a “Western” creed, even though it originated in the Middle East and has been an integral part of that region’s belief systems for 2000 years.

Mr Shortt quotes expert findings that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left or been killed over the past century.

The pace of this assault is now intensifying with the rise of militant Islam in countries such as Egypt, Iraq and now, with the civil war, Syria.

Across the world as a whole, some 200 million Christians (10 per cent of the total) are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.

Mr Shortt writes: “Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood.

“The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”

The report surveys in detail the extent of Christian persecution in seven countries – Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Burma, China and India. And it cites findings from the Freedom House think-tank report to highlight the way that Muslim-majority countries are the most hostile to Christians.

They impose the greatest curbs on religious freedoms and make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance. Of the seven states receiving the lowest possible score, four are Muslim.[13]
December 2012
Following statistics was given in the Indian Parliament during question and answer session by the external affairs ministry.
. . .

After the Dec.6,1992 incident in Ayodhya, India (destruction of the disputed Babri mosque) Anti-Hindu forces in the rest of the world reacted as follows:

Pakistan - 242 temples damaged/ destroyed.

Bangla Desh- 357 temples damaged/ destroyed...

Britain - 4 temples damaged.

Attacks on 56 other temples in rest of the world.[14]
June 1994


There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department.

This reflects the state of religious freedom in that country ten years after the United States first invaded it and overthrew its Islamist Taliban regime.

In the intervening decade, U.S. taxpayers have spent $440 billion to support Afghanistan's new government and more than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died serving in that country.

The last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010, according to the State Department's latest International Religious Freedom Report. The report, which was released last month and covers the period of July 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010, also states that “there were no Christian schools in the country.”[15]
October 2011
There is only “one known Jewish resident” still living in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department.

That is despite the fact that Jews have lived in Afghanistan for nearly three millenia, and had a local population that was 40,000 strong as of the mid-1800s
. . .
The last Jew in Afghanistan is known by name. Also, there is only one synagogue left in that country.

But the State Department report says that synagogue is no longer “in use for a lack of Jewish community.”

According to media reports, by the end of 2004 there were only two known Afghan Jews left in Afghanistan. But one died in 2005, leaving just one survivor.

According to the State Department, “in the 20th century, small communities of Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Sikhs lived in the country, although most members of these communities emigrated during the years of civil war and Taliban rule.”

By the end of Taliban rule, non-Muslim populations had been virtually eliminated except for a small population of native Hindus and Sikhs,” reads the report.[16]
October 2011


Speaking at Communion and Liberation’s annual meeting in Rimini, Italy, the primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus discussed the desecration of churches in northeastern Cyprus, which has been under Turkish military occupation since 1974.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II said that 120 churches have become mosques, museums, or storage facilities and that Turkey is attempting to eliminate Christianity in the area.[17]
August 2012


Nearly 93,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since 19 March [following the Egyptian revolution], a report by an Egypt-based Coptic NGO has said.

The number may increase to 250,000 by the end of 2011, according to Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights, which released the report.[18]
September 2011
Congress heard disturbing accounts last week of escalating abduction, coerced conversion and forced marriage of Coptic Christian women and girls. Those women are being terrorized and, consequently, marginalized, in the formation of the new Egypt.

Sadly, the vulnerability and abduction of Coptic Christians is not a new problem. Going back to the 1970s, when Anwar Sadat used Islamism to solidify his leadership of Egypt, Coptic women and girls have been abducted, forced to marry their captors, and coercively converted to Islam. No doubt, in some cases, women chose to elope, marry across religious lines and cut off relations with their families. Yet the Egyptian government’s claim that this is what has happened to every one of thousands of disappeared women and girls defies reason.
. . .

According to a new report, the second of two on this subject by George Washington University adjunct professor Michele Clark and Coptic human rights activist Nadia Ghaly... based on a survey of four lawyers in Egypt over a five-year period, they saw at least 550 cases of disappearances and petitions to restore Christian identity following abductions, forced marriages and forced conversions. Alarmingly, since the revolution, cases of reported disappearance have increased, while recovery of women and girls has decreased. Those women who escape or are found by their families face obstacles to justice and closure. In many cases, the government refuses to reinstate their Christian identity on national identity cards, which seems to sanction coerced conversions. I am not aware of any case, either before or after the revolution, in which an abductor has been prosecuted.[19]
July 2012
Several Coptic leaders voiced concerns about what they called discriminatory policies of President Mohamed Morsy, warning of increasing emigration among the country’s largest minority.
. . .
Coptic lawyer Mamdouh Ramzy said 100,000 Copts have applied for emigration to the US, and others have applied to go to Scandinavian countries. He added that changes to the demography of Egypt will have extremely dangerous repercussions.[20]
September 2012


Acts of violence and intolerance against Christians in Indonesia almost doubled in 2011, with an Islamist campaign to close down churches symbolizing the plight of the religious minority.

The Indonesian Protestant Church Union, locally known as PGI, counted 54 acts of violence and other violations against Christians in 2011, up from 30 in 2010.

The number of such incidents against religious minorities in general also grew, from 198 in 2010 to 276 in 2011, but the worst is perhaps yet to come if authorities continue to overlook the threat of extremism, said a representative from the Jakarta-based Wahid Institute, a Muslim organization that promotes tolerance.

Rumadi, who goes by a single name, said his Wahid Institute also observed an attempt to institutionalize intolerance in this archipelago of about 238 million people, of whom about 88 percent Muslim. At least 36 regulations to ban religious practices deemed deviant from Islam were drafted or implemented in the country in 2011.

A Jakarta-based civil rights group, the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, noted that both the government and groups in society were responsible for the incidents, with the main violators including religious extremist organizations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
. . .
The Setara report cited a February incident in which a mob of about 1,500 Muslim extremists brutally killed three members of the Ahmadiyya community, which is seen as heretical by mainstream Muslims, in the province of Banten near West Java.

“Cases of intolerance have intensified this year, numbering more than last year, and at the core of the problem is poor law enforcement by the government,” Setara deputy chairman Bonar Tigor Naipospos told The Jakarta Globe.[21]
January 2012
Violence against religious minorities surged in Indonesia in 2011, with authorities standing aside and failing to uphold the rule of law as Islamist mobs attacked Christians and Ahmadis, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its annual report on the country.

The report, part of a larger HRW publication monitoring human rights in more than 90 countries, also said violence continued to rack Papua and West Papua. The report said the authorities used excessive force against peaceful protesters in these Indonesian provinces, where a low-level separatist insurgency has been going on for decades.

Elaine Pearson, the group’s deputy Asia director, said attacks on religious minorities and police violence in Papua “got a lot worse in 2011.”

“The common thread is the failure of the Indonesian government to protect the rights of all its citizens,” she said.

The report said senior government officials, including Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali, Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, and Minister of Human Rights and Law Patrialis Akbar, “continued to justify restrictions on religious freedom in the name of public order.”

Incidents of sectarian violence “got more deadly and more frequent” last year, with 184 cases of religious attacks in the first nine months of 2011, the rights group said. Churches as well as Ahmadi mosques and communities in various places came under assault.[22]
January 2012
Last year, the local Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace recorded 244 acts of violence against religious minorities – nearly double the 2007 figure
. . .
Indonesia's Christians have suffered most, perhaps. The Indonesian Communion of Churches says about 80 churches have been closed each year since President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took power in 2004, and an additional 1,000 congregations have faced harassment.[23]
May 2012
[Indonesia] is by no means a bastion of tolerance. The rights of religious and ethnic minorities are routinely trampled. While Indonesia’s Constitution protects freedom of religion, regulations against blasphemy and proselytizing are routinely used to prosecute atheists, Bahais, Christians, Shiites, Sufis and members of the Ahmadiyya faith... By 2010, Indonesia had over 150 religiously motivated regulations restricting minorities’ rights.

In 2006, Mr. Yudhoyono, in a new decree on “religious harmony,” tightened criteria for building a house of worship. The decree is enforced only on religious minorities... More than 400 such churches have been closed since Mr. Yudhoyono took office in 2004.

Although the government has cracked down on Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda affiliate that has bombed hotels, bars and embassies, it has not intervened to stop other Islamist militants who regularly commit less publicized crimes against religious minorities.
. . .
Mr. Yudhoyono is not simply turning a blind eye; he has actively courted conservative Islamist elements and relies on them to maintain his majority in Parliament
. . .

In June 2008, the Yudhoyono administration issued a decree requiring the Ahmadiyya sect to “stop spreading interpretations and activities that deviate from the principal teachings of Islam,” including its fundamental belief that there was a prophet after Muhammad... Muslim militants, who consider the Ahmadiyya heretics, then forcibly shut down more than 30 Ahmadiyya mosques.[24]
May 2012
...recent cases of persecution of religious minorities have led some to question whether Indonesia is still living up to its reputation for pluralism and tolerance. The persecuted include atheists as well as minority Muslim sects, such as the Shia and Ahmadiyya. Hundreds of churches have been closed in recent years, including, most recently, 17 house churches this month in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia where Shariah, or Islamic law, is in effect.[25]
May 2012
Victims of alleged human rights violations in Indonesia, a country where human rights courts set up in 2000 have yet to convict a single case, are facing an uphill battle to bring perpetrators to justice.

Data from local NGO Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) estimates more than one million people suffered rights abuses between 1965 and 1998 that took place largely under President Suharto’s military rule, which ended in 1998 with his forced resignation.
. . .
In 2000 the Indonesian parliament created human rights courts to hear and rule on cases concerning gross violations of human rights. Over 12 years, 12 cases have come before the country’s four human rights courts, with no resulting convictions.
. . .
Data from the Jakarta-based NGO Setara Institute calculated nearly 130 violations of religious freedom nationwide from January to June 2012. Most happened in West Java against minority religious groups such as the Ahmadiyah
. . .
In 2008 the government issued a joint ministerial decree banning Ahmadis from disseminating their beliefs on the basis the reformist movement “deviated” from mainstream Islam in its teachings.
. . .

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2012 report recorded that at least 50 Ahmadiyah places of worship have been vandalized and 36 forcibly closed since 2008, even though the Indonesian constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression.[26]
December 2012
“Cases of intolerance against Christians remained high in the country” in 2012, Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, told Morning Star News.

Christians were targeted in at least 50 of 264 cases of religious freedom violations in 2012, more than any other group, Naipospos added. Setara recorded 54 such cases against Christians in 2011, following the especially volatile year of 2010, when there were 75 cases against Christians.

Setara’s Report on Freedom of Religion and Belief in 2012 notes that the 264 cases of religious freedom violations overall last year include 371 “acts” against religious minorities, as one case often involves more than one attack or action.

The Setara report came days before more than 200 local Muslims threw rotten eggs at Christians going to a worship service in Bekasi on Christmas Eve.
. . .
Suffering at least 50 cases, Christians were the main target of religious freedom violations and violence in the Sunni Muslim-majority country. The Shia minority witnessed 34 incidents against their members, and Ahmadiyyas – a Muslim minority sect seen as heretical by Sunni Muslims – were the targets in 31 cases.
. . .
Many violent attacks were carried out with impunity by local Sunni Muslims, indicating that “the virus of intolerance” has trickled down from extremists to ordinary residents, Naipospos said. On top of the list of non-state actors were “citizens,” responsible for 76 cases of religious freedom violations – as opposed to the extremist group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which was behind 24 cases, and the MUI, which was responsible for 25 cases, according to the report.

State officials were involved in 154 of the 264 cases of religious freedom violations. The report says police officials were involved in 40 cases, followed by district administration officials at 28 cases.

The 264 cases occurred in 28 of the country’s 33 provinces, the most volatile region being Java Island, where more than 2.5 million Christians live.[27]
January 2013


more than 200 people were arrested for their religious beliefs between June 2010 and January 2011, according to Elam Ministries, a UK-based church founded by Iranian Christians.[28]
October 2011
According to the summary report, a total of 2,751 case reports were gathered in 2011 and reflected 1,120,077 violations of the articles of Human Rights Conventions which Iran had committed to respect. The report also says, 498 execution verdicts were issued and 529 people were officially executed in 2011 in different provinces. The Iranian judiciary also sentenced 597 accused people to more than 302 years of deprivation of their social rights.

One section of this report focused on religious minorities. A total of 214 case reports were recorded by the Statistics section. These reports indicate that during the last year, 378 citizens were arrested, on nine occasions religious minorities were prevented from conducting their religious services . There were four instances of beating, 13 cases of destruction or closure of religious minorities' property, 30 cases of harm to their employment security, three occasions where minorities were prevented from burying their dead. In 18 cases religious minorities were prevented from conducting financial activities, in 106 instances they were summoned by security or judicial entities. İn addition, 186 other cases of Human Rights violations for religious minorities were reported.

Some 116 religious minorities were sentenced to a total of 3,572 months in prison, 204 months of suspended imprisonment sentence, 25 Million Rial (2,500 dollars) of fines, 250 lashes and 1716 months of deprivation of social rights.

From the 214 extracted reports, 274 violations of religious minorities' rights affecting 876 people were recorded. Baha'is with 100 occasions were in first place, Darvishes with 46 instances were in second place, Christians with 29, Sunni Muslims with 26 and Ahl-e-haqs with 6 were in the next places.

In this regard, Baha'is with 47% topped the watch list of the Rapporteurs on Human Rights. Dervishes with 21%, Christians with 14% and Sunni Muslims with 12% were ranked from 2 to 4 on the watch list.

This summary report reveals only a small fraction of the broad violation of human rights against religious minorities in Iran. This unit stated that the report reflects only 3% of statistical errors. The news' from news agencies, official authorities of the regime and also NGOs were cited as sources used in compiling the report.[29]
January 2012


According to the [Chaldean Cultural Association for Peace in Iraq] association’s survey, property of at least 500,000 Christians were taken away and 200,000 Christians were forced to pay extortion money, while dozens others were kidnapped then released for ransom.

Before 2003, there were around 2.1 million Christians in Iraq, but now there are not more than 500,000 of them,” Masho said.

He criticized the Iraqi government for being unable to protect Christians, and said that it did not even fulfill its promises to compensate them.[30]
December 2009
The year 2010 was the worst year to date for the Christian community in Iraq, it has been revealed by the organization for human rights in Iraq, Hammurabi. Many Christians were forced to leave the country in fear of killings and violence of all kinds. The death toll among Christians over the past seven years, according to Hammurabi exceeds 822 people. 629 of them were murdered for being part of the Christian minority.
. . .
Among the Christian victims of 2010 there are 33 children, 25 elderly and 14 religious. In 2010 Hammurabi recorded 92 cases of Christians killed and 47 wounded, 68 in Baghdad, 23 in Mosul and one in Erbil.[31]
July 2011


There are over 700 cases of forced conversion to Islam in Pakistan each year, according to Fides [news agency].[32]
June 2011
Around 20 to 25 forced conversions [of Hindu girls to Islam] take place every month in Sindh[33]
March 2012
Around 74 percent of Pakistani women from minority communities -- Christians and Hindus -- were sexually harassed, while 43 percent faced religious discrimination at workplaces in 2010 and 2011, a study said.

Around 27 percent of minority women faced discrimination in admission to educational institutions and were forced to take Islamic studies for absence of any alternative subject, said National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) executive director Peter Jacob.

A study titled "Life on the Margins" conducted by the commission with rights activists, media and people from various walks of life has just been released.

The research, based on interviews with minority women, was led by Jennifer Jag Jivan and Jacob and assessed by three prominent minority women, Asiya Nasir, Ernestine C. Pinto and Pushpa Kumari.

Jacob said the study looked into social, political and economic conditions of minority women with a baseline survey conducted in 26 districts of Punjab and Sindh, the two provinces where 95 percent of minorities in the country lived.

As many as 1,000 Hindu and Christian women were interviewed.

The study looked into issues such as legal disparity, laws concerning minorities, religious and gender biases, forced conversions that affected everyday life of minority women.[34]
March 2012
The hate campaign against Ahmadis reached new heights in Pakistan and even innocent children are not spared now.

These were the findings of an annual report, the Persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan, released by the Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan on Wednesday.
. . .
“There have been 210 deaths after the imposition of these discriminatory laws in 1984, 254 assassination attempts on various Ahmadis, 23 Ahmadi places of worship were demolished and 28 were sealed by the administration, 16 places of worship were forcefully taken over, 29 graves of Ahmadis were opened and desecrated and 57 Ahmadis were refused burial in common graveyards,” the report read further.

The report also read during 2011 Ahmadis were not allowed to build places of worship anywhere in Pakistan.
. . .

According to the report, in 2011 as well, Ahmadis were not allowed to hold any convention in Rabwah, where 95 percent people belonged to Ahmadiyya community.[35]
May 2012
In Rahim Yar Khan, members of minority communities, particularly Hindus, are unable to register their children in government schools, which have refused admissions due to the absence of birth certificates.

Furthermore, without Computerised National Identity Cards, over 150,000 non-Muslims have been unable to register their children for secondary school examinations since 2001.

Hindus are also unable to get their marriages registered in the absence of formal laws in the country.[36]
September 2012
As many as 2,000 women and girls from various minority sects were forcibly converted to Islam through rape, torture and kidnappings... in 2011, according to a report by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC).[37]
September 2012
While sectarian violence is a longstanding problem in Pakistan, attacks against ordinary Shia have increased dramatically in recent years, Human Rights Watch said. In 2012, at least 320 members of the Shia population were killed in targeted attacks. Over 100 were killed in Balochistan province, the majority from the Hazara community.
. . .
While authorities claim to have arrested dozens of suspects in attacks against Shia since 2008, only a handful have been charged, and no one has been held accountable for these attacks.[38]
September 2012
The report [by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC)] read that minorities make up three to four percent of the country’s population but remain sidelined in state policies. In 2011, extremists killed governor Salmaan Taseer and federal minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, as both were advocating minority rights by calling for amendments in the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

After the 2011 floods, 130,000 Hindus were forced to leave their homes and 86,500 ended up on streets of various cities in Sindh. Whereas 27 Hindu children were kidnapped for ransom from different parts of northern Sindh. The primary school enrolment rate of scheduled caste Hindu girls is only 10.2 percent. Ahmadi students have been especially targeted by the hate campaigns. In Hafizabad, 10 Ahmadi students, including seven girls and a teacher, were expelled from school on account of their religious affiliation.[37]
September 2012
Since the beginning of the year, at least six churches in the city [of Karachi] have been attacked, looted, fired upon or set ablaze.
. . .
In most cases, minorities refuse to register FIRs fearing a reprisal, while the police try to play down the incident.[39]
October 2012
Unlike conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where the violence runs both ways, nearly all the deaths along the sectarian divide in Pakistan are on the Shiite side.
. . .

The biggest anti-Shiite group, Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), operates openly in Pakistan.

According to Hasan Murtaza, an independent researcher, 456 Shiites have been killed this year through Monday in violence that has stretched across the country. Of those, 103 deaths took place in Karachi and 120 in the western city of Quetta.[40]
November 2012
In Pakistan, in fact, in recent years there have been about 1,000 cases a year of Christian and Hindu girls kidnapped by Muslims, forced marriage and conversion.[41]
March 2013


As of May [about] 25 churches and convents have been destroyed. This destruction is mostly confined to [semi-autonomous] Zanzibar where the population is 99 percent Muslim and openly hostile to Christians,” explained William Stark, regional manager for Africa of advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC)[42]
November 2012


Turkey was the country with the highest number of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convictions in 2011, the third year in a row as Today's Zaman reports. ECHR head Nicolas Bratza said at a press briefing on Thursday that Turkey topped the list of countries that violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) with 159 cases.
. . .

Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland recently said during a meeting that there are currently 16,000 ongoing cases against Turkey, making it the country against which the second-highest number of cases have been filed.
. . .
In its 2010 report, the Strasbourg-based court again listed Turkey as the country most often found to be in violation of the convention. The highest number of judgments finding at least one violation of the ECHR concern cases from Turkey (228)
. . .

In 2009, Turkey also topped the list in terms of violations of ECHR articles.[43]
January 2012
Despite some promising developments, Christians in Turkey continue to suffer attacks from private citizens, discrimination by lower-level government officials and vilification in both school textbooks and news media, according to a study by a Protestant group.

In its annual "Report on Human Rights Violations," released in January, the country's Association of Protestant Churches notes mixed indicators of improvement but states that there is a "root of intolerance" in Turkish society toward adherents of non-Islamic faiths.
. . .
The report documented 12 attacks against Christians in 2011, including incidents in which individuals were beaten in Istanbul for sharing their faith, church members were threatened and church buildings attacked. None of the attackers have been charged. In some of the attacks, the victims declined to bring charges against the assailants.
. . .
"There are at least five church leaders who have bodyguards, and at least two have a direct phone line to a police protection unit," the report states. "Several churches have police protection during worship services."
. . .
Along with attacks, Christians in Turkey continue to have problems establishing places of worship.
. . .
The report also identifies state policies that single out Christian children for harassment or vilification.
. . .

Being a Christian is often characterized in the news media as a negative thing, according to the study, and many legal activities of church bodies were portrayed as if they were illegal or a liability to society. Some church groups were falsely linked to at least one terrorist group.[44]
February 2012

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  1. Riane Eisler - Dark underbelly of the world's most 'peaceful' countries - Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2007
  2. Global Peace Index - Methodology and Data Sources
  3. Islamic Countries Dominate Open Doors 2011 World Watch List - ASSIST News, January 5, 2011
  4. 2011 World Watch List - Open Doors, accessed January 11, 2011
  5. "Sociologist: Every 5 Minutes a Christian Is Martyred", Zenit, June 3, 2011 (archived), 
  6. Islamic States Pledge Tolerance as Report Says They Practice Persecution - UN Watch, January 13, 2012
  7. Dr. Carl Moeller - Islamic-Majority Countries Top Open Doors 2012 World Watch List - Open Doors, January 4, 2012
  8. Patrick Goodenough - Countries With Worst Religious Freedom Grades Are Mostly Islamic - CNS News, August 10, 2011
  9. Rising Restrictions on Religion - Pew Research Center, August 9, 2011
  10. Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The Consequences of Criminalizing “Defamation of Religions” - Human Rights First, March 2011
  11. Nina Shea - The World's Worst Religious Persecutors - Hudson Institute, March 20, 2012
  12. U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) - Annual Report 2012
  13. Christianity at risk of wipe-out in the Middle East, warns new Civitas study - Civitas: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society, December 23, 2012
  14. News India Times, March 1993
  15. Edwin Mora - Not a Single Christian Church Left in Afghanistan, Says State Department - CNS News, October 10, 2011
  16. Edwin Mora - Only One Jewish Resident Left in Afghanistan, Says State Department - CNS News, October 11, 2011
  17. Prelate laments desecration of churches in Cyprus - CWN, August 22, 2012
  18. Emad Khalil - NGO report: 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March - Al-Masry Al-Youm, September 25, 2011
  19. Rep. Christopher H. Smith - SMITH: Escalating violence against Coptic women and girls - The Washington Times, July 26, 2012
  20. Moataz Nadi - Coptic leaders voice concerns over president's policies toward Christians - Egypt Independent, September 10, 2012
  21. Anti-Christian Incidents Nearly Doubled in Indonesia in 2011 - Compass Direct, January 4, 2012
  22. Thin Lei Win - Violence against Indonesia’s religious minorities surges -HRW - AlertNet, January 24, 2012
  23. Kate Hodal - Indonesia's atheists face battle for religious freedom - The Guardian, May 3, 2012
  24. Andreas Harsono - No Model for Muslim Democracy - New York Times‎, May 21, 2012
  25. Anthony Kuhn - Hard-Line Muslims Confront Indonesia's Christians - KERA News, May 24, 2012
  26. No Justice? Indonesia Struggles to Address History of Human Rights Abuse - IRIN News, December 2, 2012
  27. Ordinary Muslims in Indonesia Violating Rights, Study Finds - Morning Star News, January 4, 2013
  28. Daniel Tovrov - Youcef Nadarkhani: Iran Says Pastor Guilty of Rape, not Apostasy - International Business Times, October 2, 2011
  29. Religious minorities spent 3,776 months in prison in 2011 - Mohabat News, January 17, 2012
  30. 1960 Christians killed in Iraq since 2003 – survey - Aswat al-Iraq, December 26, 2009
  31. Naman Tarcha - 2010 a terrible year for Iraq’s Christians - AsiaNews, July 15, 2011
  32. Kidnapped Pakistani Christian may be sold abroad - Catholic Culture, June 13, 2011
  33. Minority MPA says young Hindu girls subjected to gross injustice in Pakistan - ANI, March 1, 2012
  34. Minority women in Pakistan face harassment: Study - IANS, March 16, 2012
  35. Hate campaign against Ahmadis reaches new heights - Daily Times, May 3, 2012
  36. Zahid Gishkori - Intolerance growing in South Punjab: Report - The Express Tribune, September 3, 2012
  37. 37.0 37.1 2,000 minorities girls converted to Islam forcibly: report - Daily Times, September 5, 2012
  38. HRW expresses concern over sectarian killing in Pakistan - Geo.TV, September 6, 2012
  39. Rabia Ali - Religious intolerance: Second church attacked in Karachi in 10 days - The Express Tribune, October 20, 2012
  40. Saeed Shah - Anti-Shiite violence rises in Pakistan as Islam’s sectarian divide moves beyond the Middle East - McClatchy News, November 30, 2012
  41. ASIA/PAKISTAN - Blasphemy and forced conversion: two young Christians rescued in Lahore - Fides News Agency, March 19, 2013
  42. George Whitten - Dozens of Churches Destroyed In Tanzania; East Africa Violence Spreading - Worthy News, November 13, 2012
  43. Human rights: Turkey has highest conviction rate in EU court - ANSAmed, January 27, 2012
  44. Turkish Christians Subject to Discrimination, Attacks, Report Says - Compass Direct, February 15, 2012