What is the World Watch List?

Young Iraqi
 refugees in Erbil, Kurdistan, in 2014.
Young Iraqi refugees in Erbil, Kurdistan, in 2014.

Open Doors

The World Watch List is an annual report prepared and published by the World Watch Research team of Open Doors. It ranks the 50 countries where it is most difficult to profess and practice the Christian faith.

The research team surveys religious freedom for Christians in five areas of life:

• Private
• Family
• Community
• National
• The Church

Separately, the team also measures violence against Christians.

Learn more: A description of the 5 affected areas of life

For each country surveyed, scores for each of the six categories are combined to create a total score. The scores determine the country’s ranking on the World Watch List.

See the 2017 World Watch List here

Interactive map of 2017 World Watch List countries. Bright red equals extreme persecution. Zoom out to see all 50 countries. Click on individual countries for details.

Note: This interactive map does not include the Maldives, ranked No. 13, an archepelago about 400 kilometres southwest of India, in the Indian Ocean

The list is published in January each year. The survey period beings Nov. 1, and concludes Oct. 31 of the following year. Thus, the list released January 2017 – The “2017 World Watch List” – is the product of the survey that covers the period from 1 Nov. 2015 to 31 Oct. 2016.

Beginning with the 2014 World Watch List, the research methods used by Open Doors have been audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom, which researches the persecution of adherents of any religion. The institute, which is independent of Open Doors, assesses the methodology, processes, design and questionnaire of the World Watch List.

List of Open Doors affiliate websites where the 2017 World Watch List can be found

Australia

Austria

Brazil

Canada

Chile

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

Italy

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Philippines

Poland

Romania

South Africa

South Korea

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

United States

Catching Our Eye

Christian removed from role after Muslim protests

Indonesian authorities have removed a Catholic from his role as the head of a sub-district after protests from Muslim residents at the appointment of a Christian.

Yulius Suharto, head of the Pajangan sub-district in the Bantul Regency of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, was only appointed on 30 December but will now be moved to a region where the majority are not Muslims, reports Asia News.

The move came after local Muslims campaigned against his appointment on social media.

World Watch Monitor recently reported that Indonesia has shown a steady increase in violations of religious freedom over the past year, according to the country’s National Commission for Human Rights. Indonesia also features on Christian charity Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Indonesia is no. 46 on the 2017 list.

Two high-profile blasphemy cases are currently ongoing in the country – the first against the Christian Governor of Jakarta for allegedly “misusing” a verse from the Qur’an; the second against a Muslim cleric alleged to have mocked Christianity.

Indonesia religious freedom violation ‘increasing’

Indonesia has shown a steady increase in violations of religious freedom over the past year, according to the country’s National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

In 2016, Komnas HAM received 97 reports of violations, compared to 87 in 2015 and 74 in 2014, according to the organisation’s faith freedom desk coordinator Jayadi Damanik.

“The number, of course, doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual circumstance because there were cases that went unreported,” Damanik told the Jakarta Post.

West Java had the highest number of reported cases, with 21, while Jakarta came second with 19. The most frequent reports related to “prohibition and vandalism against houses of worship” (44) and “prohibiting religious followers to practise their religions” (19).

Indonesia also features on Christian charity Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Indonesia is No. 46 on the 2017 list.

Two high-profile blasphemy cases are currently ongoing in Indonesia – the first against the Christian Governor of Jakarta for allegedly “misusing” a verse from the Qur’an; the second against a Muslim cleric alleged to have mocked Christianity.

Chinese pastor Joseph Gu arrested again

The former leader of China’s largest official Protestant “mega-church” has been arrested and charged for the second time with misappropriating funds.

Gu Yuese (also known as Joseph Gu) was arrested on 7 January, a year after being arrested on the same charges. (He was released on bail in March 2016, but kept under police surveillance.)

As with his previous arrest, rights groups claim his detention is “politically motivated” and relates to his public opposition to government’s removal of crosses from churches in Zhejiang Province.

After that first arrest, Gu was dismissed from his post as senior pastor of the Chongyi Church in Hangzhou, a government-approved church with around 10,000 members. Local Christians told Radio Free Asia he did not return to work after his release.

Source: Hong Kong Free Press

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