The rise of religious extremism is largely to blame for an increase in persecution of religious minorities around the world, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The annual report by the government panel says extremists target religious minorities for violence, including physical assaults and even murder.
The panel, which advises the State Department, also found that China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Iran are among the world's worst violators of religious freedom.
They found that governments that fail to protect victims or even take part in persecution, contribute to the problem.
Commission head Katrina Lantos Swett says some of the worst persecution occurs in countries where it is illegal to change religions or commit blasphemy.
Muslims who convert to Christianity can face the death penalty in Iran. In Pakistan, blaspheming the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, can also bring a death sentence.
Knox Thames, director of Policy and Research at the USCIRF, will talk more about the panel's findings on Christian World News, May 3. Check your local listings or check CBNNews.com after 5 p.m. ET for the interview.