There are no surprises in Release International’s list of predicted hotspots for persecution in 2012. If anything, the organisation fears the plight of Christians around the world may get worse.
The organisation has received reports from partners that Christians are coming under increasing suspicion in North Korea. Practising Christianity is banned in the closed-off communist country and anyone caught with a Bible faces torture, imprisonment and possibly death.
It is monitoring events closely following the death of dictator Kim Jong-il but there is little optimism that the change of leadership to Kim Jong-un will ease their plight.
In China, authorities are considering legalising the detention of people considered a threat to national security, a move that would put lawyers and Christian human rights campaigners at risk.
There are additional concerns that the change in leadership later in 2012 may prompt authorities to tighten their grip on Christians and potential dissidents.
Bob Fu, of partner organisation China Aid, said: “Religious freedom conditions are at their lowest point since 1982.”
In countries with large Muslim and Hindu populations, the prevalence of apostasy charges against believers is a “worrying trend”, the charity said.
In addition to Hindu and Muslim converts, accusations are being levelled against evangelists and other existing believers who speak about their faith.
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