persecuted religion
Sabah Arar/Staff(L)/Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Stringer(R)/Getty Images

With the use of the word “Islamophobia” and increased reports of alleged hateful acts against Muslims, it's easy to think followers of Islam are the biggest target for persecution.

However, what we perceive reality to be, and what reality actually is, can sometimes be different.

FoxNews.com reported that according to research conducted by the Center for Studies on New Religions - in 2016, Christians, not Muslims, were the most persecuted group across the globe.

The upcoming report said that 90,000 Christians were killed for their beliefs and over 600 million were prevented from practicing their faith.

Islamic extremists like ISIS were responsible for a third of the deaths. FoxNews.com said that activists claim the Christian population in Iraq has dwindled to only 275,000 from 1.5 million, in 2003.

According to a list by Open Doors, Somalia, North Korea, India and the Sudan are also places where Christians face heavy persecution. Open doors is an organization that works in oppressive countries to empower Christians.

Screenshot/Open Doors

Robert Nicholson, executive director of the Christian engagement organization, the Philos Project, wasn't surprised by the numbers in the report. He told FoxNews.com:

“These numbers underscore what we already know. There are many places on earth where being a Christian is the most dangerous thing you can be."

Nicholson also described a problem with the perception of Christianity:

"Those who think of Christianity as a religion of the powerful need to see that in many places it’s a religion of the powerless. And the powerless deserve to be protected.”

He isn't the only person to think perception plays a large factor in the deaths of Christians.

As reported by FoxNews.com, experts cite the “colonial import” view and the idea that Christians are simply “doing the bidding of the West,” as a main reasons for being targeted by national religious movements.

This is the second year in a row, that Christians have found their faith listed high on the “most persecuted” list.

In 2015, violence against Christians reached an all-time high. Open Doors referred to it as, “a level akin to ethnic cleansing.”

The full report by the Center for Studies on New Religions is expected to be released in February.

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