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4. Christian prisoners freed: The stories of three Christians whose sagas attracted international attention had happy endings.
- Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani: In September, Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was imprisoned for more than 1,000 days and facing a death sentence simply for being a Christian, was acquitted of apostasy and released. Nadarkhani's saga drew international attention, and his perseverance and repeated refusals to recant his faith in court inspired Christians around the world.
- Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng: In April, blind Chinese Christian human rights activist Chen Guangcheng made a dramatic escape from imprisonment and torture in his own home, finding refuge in the United States with his wife and two children. Chen was jailed and tortured for more than four years for fighting China's one-child policy and exposing more than 100,000 forced abortions, then held under house arrest for 20 more months.
- Pakistani teenager Rimsha Masih: 14-year-old Rimsha Masih was arrested in August on suspicion of desecrating Islamic texts and charged under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws — which carry a penalty of life imprisonment or death. After several dramatic twists and turns, a court dropped Rimsha's case in November, declaring her innocent.
5. The Middle East heats up: Now two years since the beginning of the so-called "Arab Spring," Christians in the Middle East and northern Africa are suffering more than ever amid Muslim domination and ever-increasing persecution of religious minorities. As secular regimes are one by one replaced by Islamic states, the "Christian Winter" shows no signs of ending. In Egypt, unrest continues under Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi. In Syria, Christians — who fear for their future should President Bashar al-Assad be defeated — say the growing presence of foreign Islamic fighters and Islamist brigades among the forces opposing Assad's regime are of particular concern. In Israel, tension continues between Israelis and Palestinians in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense and the Palestinians' successful U.N. nonmember statehood bid in November.