Iran ranked eighth hardest country to be Christian

Iran ranked eighth hardest country to be Christian

The countries in red are those ranked “extreme” in their persecution of Christians; for those in orange, persecution is described as “very high”. (Photo: Open Doors International)

Iran has risen back to eighth place on an annual list of the countries where it is hardest to practise the Christian faith.

This marks a return to Iran’s 2021 ranking on the World Watch List, which is produced by Christian charity Open Doors International, after a year in ninth place.

For the past five years, Iran has oscillated between eighth and ninth place on the list.

This year, Iran has moved back above Afghanistan, which last year topped the list, even ahead of perennial “winner” North Korea.

The other countries in the top 10 are Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sudan. 

Iran’s rise by one point in Open Doors’ scoring system was “mainly caused by an increase in reported violent incidents”, said the charity, “including an abduction”.

“The outlook for Iranian Christians, in particular converts from Islam to Christianity, is by no means improving,” Open Doors said. 

“The country’s political institutions, including the presidency, are all dominated by hardliners. The amendment and tightening of the penal code in 2021, which is also used to prosecute Christians, is all part of a wider development towards Iran becoming a totalitarian state. 

“State surveillance is on the rise and the authorities are increasingly exerting a firmer grip on daily life and activities, an attitude reflected in the harsh responses to the protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022. The scores in all spheres of life are at an extreme level.”