21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS terrorists in February, putting Christian persecution, which has been going on for decades in the Middle East, on the world media's radar screen.

21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS terrorists in February, 2015, putting Christian persecution, which has been going on for decades in the Middle East, on the world media’s radar screen.

Islamic terrorists are fueling historic levels of Christian persecution around the globe.

A report released Wednesday by the British nonprofit Open Doors World Watch List concludes 100 million Christians were persecuted in 2015. The group has studied the issue since 1955, when it first began smuggling Bibles into Communist Europe.

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The group says 7,000 Christian were killed for their faith in 2015 compared to 4,000 the previous year. That number does not include executions in Iraq and Syria, where millions of Christians have been displaced by civil war and the Islamic State group.

Data for North Korea is also missing, although 70,000 Christians are estimated to exist inside the police state’s gulags.

Director of Research Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan wrote that anti-Christian regions often have less killings because the oppression is so great that open expressions of faith disappear.

“It is possible for persecution to be so intense in all areas of life that Christians fear to witness at all, and so you may find very low levels of violence as a result since incidents of persecution often result from acts of witness,” Boyd-MacMillan said.

In addition to tracking violence, Open Doors’ methodology involves studying the private, family, community, national and church life among Christians in 50 countries.

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The top-ten worst countries for Christians in 2015 includes:

  • Nigeria
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Kenya
  • Cameroon
  • Libya
  • Pakistan
  • Syria
  • Burma

Open Doors tallied 4,028 killings in Nigera linked with Islamic terrorist. Approximately 2.1 million people were displaced in the region and 198 churches were destroyed.

The nonprofit quoted British politician David Alton to describe what its numbers would have looked like if data for Iraq and Syria were available.

“A genocide that dares not speak its name [occurred in Syria and Iraq]. Deep-rooted religious hatred, a hatred of difference, is driving on a systematic campaign of deportation and exodus, degrading treatment, including sexual violence, enslavement, barbaric executions, and attempts to systematically destroy all history and culture that is not their own.”

Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors, said the environment for Christians has worsened in every region of operation.

“The trend is stark, as are the consequences for real people,” said Pearce.

Related story:

Top 50 list of Christian persecutors

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