African Nations Surge Up Ranks of World's Worst Persecutors

Mali, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Niger make debuts on Open Doors's 2013 World Watch List.

Persecution of Christians is rising in at least eight African countries, according to the latest Open Doors USA list of the world's worst violators of religious freedom.

"Africa, where Christianity spread fastest during the past century, now is the region where oppression of Christians is spreading fastest," the group noted.

On the 2013 World Watch List (analysis and Top 10 country summaries at bottom), which ranks the 50 countries where Christians face the most religious persecution, Mali has skyrocketed from being unranked to No. 7 this year, joining Somalia (No. 5) and Eritrea (No. 10) among the top 10.

"Mali used to be a model country. ... Christians and even missionaries could be active," said Jerry Dykstra, spokesman for Open Doors. "[But] currently the situation in northern Mali is somewhat similar to Saudi Arabia. Christians are simply no longer allowed to be there."

Other African nations new to the list include Tanzania (No. 24), Kenya (No. 40), Uganda (No. 47), and Niger (No. 50). ...

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