Christian ‘martyr’ deaths doubled in 2013, with Syria and other Muslim-majority nations among most dangerous

For the twelfth year in a row, North Korea topped the Open Doors list of most repressive country for Christians. It had no figures for killings but said Christians faced massive pressure from authorities and up to 70,000 lived in political prison camps.

Open Doors research head Frans Veerman said the report’s figures were based only on verified accounts of killings and had to be seen as a minimal count of an extensive phenomenon. Other Christian groups have estimated annual killings as high as 8,000.

Above: A Syrian child is rescued after heavy shelling in Damascus on Boxing Day. The country’s nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, likened the bloodshed to the massacre of the Innocents. Photo: CNS/Reuters