For the past year, "Open Doors", a U.S.-based human rights organisation has been compiling the “World Watch List” which maps the religious freedom situation around the world. According to the data collected for the 2013 list, as many as eight out of ten States that have adopted repressive measures against Christians are Islamic. At the dawn of the third millennium, therefore, state Islam presents itself as an element of deep and continuous repression of religious freedom.
According to Ron Boyd MacMillan who works in the “strategy” section of Open Doors, Islamic religious extremism is the number one cause of Christian persecution around the world; this includes Islam at government level and the Islam represented by the opposition.
Contrary to the forecasts made during the early months, two years since it exploded onto the world scene, the Arab Spring has revealed itself to be a key cause of the worsening of Christian life not just in the Middle East but also in the Asia-Pacific region. This is hugely ironic considering the expectations that were triggered by the Arab Spring and how warmly it was welcomed by Western mass media.
"The Arab Spring has turned into an Islamic Winter for the Christians in the Middle East," Boyd-MacMillan said. "In every country where a regime has been deposed - such as Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Egypt - Islam is still in power and putting pressure on the Christian minority."
The Open Doors list, classifies Saudi Arabia among the top persecutor countries, second only to North Korea which worships the ruling Kim family almost religiously. Open Doors estimates that there are somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand Christians in North Korean forced labour camps out of a total of 400 thousand workers.
The Open Doors List (which was first published in 1991) takes into account the various degrees of repression citizens are subjected to: private life, family life, religious community life and national life. The U.S. Department of State also compiles a list of countries that commit the most serious violations of religious freedom. Its list of “Countries of Particular Concern” includes Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.
But the Islamic violence witnessed in recent months has certainly changed the map a bit. One need only think of Syria, where the “jihad” financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has led to the birth of the “Islamic Caliphate of Aleppo” a city famous for its multiculturalism. Then there is Mali. This African State used to be a shining example of peaceful co-existence but after its temporary conquest by Islamic fundamentalists and the imposition of Sharia law, thousands of Christians were forced to leave.