In most cases the non-Muslim countries rounding out each year’s top ten since 2003 have been communist (North Korea, China, Laos, Vietnam). The exceptions were military-ruled Burma; Bhutan, a Buddhist monarchy in south-east Asia; and Eritrea, a small country in north-east Africa ruled by an autocratic regime that mistreats Jehovah‘s Witnesses, evangelical and Pentecostal Christians and Muslims.

Pakistan enters the top ten of the Open Doors’ list this year for the first time, after a year marked by the assassination of two politicians who took a public stand against the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.

Also of note is the fact Afghanistan moves up to its highest-ever placing – No. 2 – pushing Saudi Arabia and Iran further down the list.