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Harshest persecution likely to occur in Saudi Arabia and North Korea

ICC Note:

North Korea and Saudi Arabia continue to maintain their position as the nations to watch in regard to the persecution of Christians for 2008. Let’s remember to Keep these nations in watchful prayer as we enter in to this new year.

1/7/2008 North Korea, Saudi Arabia (ChristianToday) According to persecution watchdog Release International, some of the harshest persecution endured by Christians in 2008 is likely to take place in states where Christianity is illegal – North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

“Imprisonment, torture and even summary execution continue to be a fact of life for secret Christians in North Korea,” says Tim Peters of Helping Hands Korea, which supports refugees escaping the repressive regime of Kim Jong-Il.

Saudi Arabia punishes anyone involved in evangelism or who converts a Muslim with jail or expulsion. Christian leaders have also been threatened with execution.

Most persecution of Christians in 2008 is set to take place in the four ‘zones’ of Islam, communism, Hinduism and Buddhism, says Release. Persecution may stem from the government or its agents, such as the secret police, military or judiciary, or from non-governmental movements, such as militant Islamic groups.

For many years, one of the most repressive Islamic nations has been Saudi Arabia. As guardian of Islam’s holiest sites Mecca and Medina Saudi forbids all other religions and threatens evangelists with execution. The government bans all Christian literature yet spends billions of dollars each year propagating Islam around the world.

Even seemingly moderate Muslim countries’ governments often fail to safeguard the rights of their Christian minorities. Christians suffer kidnapping, forced conversion to Islam, imprisonment, destruction of churches, discrimination in education, employment, housing and the legal system, executions, rape of Christian girls and torture.

Communist regimes continue to persecute Christians in China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam, where they have pursued systematic programmes to weaken and destroy the church. And persecution is growing in China, as the authorities clamp down on potential dissent in preparation for the Olympic Games.

“Being discovered as a member of the underground church inside North Korea can result in one’s entire family being sent to a prison camp, and even torture and summary execution in extreme cases.”

Seong Min Kim, a North Korean who managed to escape from his country, said: “Although the North Korean government tries to silence North Korean Christians by calling them spies, the praise and prayer of our brothers and sisters cannot be silenced, even in a political concentration camp or a prison.”

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