The most dangerous countries to practice Christianity are overwhelmingly Islamic, according to a new report by the human rights group Open Doors International.
Open Doors released its annual watch list of the world's worst offenders, Jan. 5.
Communist North Korea ranked as the worst persecutor for the ninth consecutive year, and eight of the top 10 worst countries for religious freedom have Islamic majorities.
"While they (Christians) are exterminated, we cannot sit," said Open Doors USA president Carl Moeller.
Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia were among the other worst countries for Christians.
"Worldwide, the worst place in the world to be a Christian is primarily in the Muslim world," Moeller added.
He says Christian persecution has increased significantly in Iraq, with the country jumping from 17th to 8th on this year's list.
"Iraq has jumped specifically because of the intentional targeting of the Christian community there by extremists within the factions of Iraq," Moeller explained. "Al Qaeda this year indicated on its website that Christians were quote 'legitimate targets' for their holy warriors."
Just before Christmas, Muslim extremists waged attacks on Iraqi Christians, including a massacre in a Bagdhad church that killed at least 52 people.
"We are actually labeling it a 'religicide' as extremists there want to exterminate all Christians from the country of Iraq," Moeller said.
The Obama administration condemned the recent attacks, saying it's "deeply concerned" by what appears to be a rising number of attacks on Christians in the Middle East and Africa.