January 11, 2012
More Christians were killed for their faith in northern Nigeria, Egypt and Iraq in 2011 than anywhere else in the world, with 398 martyred in those three countries alone, Open Doors USA reports. The World Christian Encyclopedia defines martyrs as "believers in Christ who lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility;" many Christians who die as a result of persecution are not counted as martyrs. Northern Nigeria had a total of 300 confirmed martyrs -- although the true total is thought to be much higher -- as Muslim extremists grew more routine and organized in their attacks. In Egypt, at least 60 Christians were killed, followed by Iraq with 38 confirmed deaths. Most were at the hands of Islamic extremists, but there were exceptions. Twenty-seven Egyptian Coptic Christian protesters lost their lives in one day alone in the Maspero Massacre in Cairo on Oct. 9, and in Iraq, at least 21 Christians were killed just in Baghdad at the hands of those who sought to ethnically cleanse Christian neighborhoods.