Christian charity and campaign agency Release International has expressed growing concern for several hotspots around the world where anti-Christian persecution is increasing.
North Korea is a major hotspot, considered by many to be the ‘most repressive nation on earth’, according to Andy Dipper, chief executive of Release. ‘2011 is likely to be increasingly precarious for Christians in the North, as military tensions grow between the two Koreas, famine continues, and the North grooms heir apparent Kim Jong-un to take over from his father. Add to that continuing concern over the North’s nuclear programme, and it all points to tougher times ahead for Christians’.
The number of Christians in North Korea is unknown. Before the Communists came to power, there were said to be 300,000 believers and the capital Pyongyang was known as ‘Asia’s Jerusalem’ because of the strong influence of Christianity. The BBC has estimated that ‘despite the persecutions, it is thought up to 30,000 North Koreans may practise Christianity secretly in their homes’.
Among other likely persecution hotspots for 2011 are Pakistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, China and North Sudan.