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Religious freedom advocacy group unveils top 3 Christian persecutors of 2021

The religious freedom advocacy group International Christian Concern has named the Taliban, Kim Jong un and Nigeria as the top persecutors of Christians at its first Persecutor of the Year Awards event.


ICC assigned the scathing Persecutor of the Year label to the top three violators of religious freedom at a press conference Tuesday that coincided with the release of its 150-page report highlighting 24 of the worst oppressors of Christians in a list that was compiled based on conversations with victims of religious persecution and experts on the subject matter. In a statement, ICC described the report as its “most ambitious research project in the organization’s history.”

2021 is the first time ICC has held a Persecutor of the Year Awards ceremony and compiled a Persecutor of the Year Awards report. In the past, ICC issued an annual report called the Hall of Shame that shone a spotlight on the world’s most egregious violators of religious freedom. Speaking to The Christian Post, ICC President Jeff King referred to the Persecutor of the Year Awards as “the evolution” of the Hall of Shame, created to help “the government and press understand very complex topics in a quick manner.”

After ICC Communications Director Mike Pritchard emphasized the organization’s mission to “bandage and build the Church in the most hostile places in the world,” King unveiled the names on the Persecutors of the Year list that calls out specific countries, entities and individuals.

ICC ranked Nigeria as the worst country for religious freedom in 2021. King, who has served as ICC’s president since 2003, explained that the African nation has been engaged in a “20-year war against Christians,” which he labeled genocide. 

The group identified by ICC as the Persecutor of the Year was the Taliban. The report cited the Taliban “going door-to-door to find out who is and isn’t going to the mosque,” searching the homes of Christians and making phone calls to Christians warning them that “We’re coming for you” as the reasons for declaring the Taliban as Persecutor of the Year. 

King discussed the situation in Afghanistan further, suggesting that the United States’ pullout of Afghanistan that enabled the Taliban to take control of the country influenced ICC’s decision to make the Taliban a Persecutor of the Year: “There are probably about 10,000 Christians … they’re all converts from Islam. And so when you’re operating in a culture of radical, fundamentalist Islam, that means you have a bullseye on your back.”

ICC selected North Korean dictator Kim Jong un as its individual Persecutor of the Year. According to the report, “The Kims have created a religious system modeled on the faith (God/Father/Son) with Kim Jong un playing the part of the Son that is to be worshiped. Any threat to the Son and over-arching religious system is mercilessly crushed.”

King referred to Kim Jong un as “the top player” in the persecution of Christians in North Korea, following in the footsteps of the previous North Korean dictators Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung: “The Kim dynasties have tortured and killed millions of Christians over the decades. And I think we are familiar that it’s very common for the Kims or … the regime put away three generations of one family when they’re identified as serious Christians.”


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