What does persecution look like in Oman?
Most Omanis practise a moderately conservative form of Islam, which tends to be more tolerant towards other beliefs—although there is almost no tolerance for family members who convert to Christianity, in part because of Oman's strong clan mentality. As part of the government's tight control of public life, all religious organisations must be registered with the authorities. Expatriate Christians can enjoy considerable freedom in Oman, as long as they avoid sharing their faith with Muslims.
Converts from Islam to Christianity face pressure from family and society to recant their new faith. This can include physical, mental and emotional abuse, job loss, family expulsion, disinheritance and losing custody of their children. Most Omani converts therefore keep their new faith hidden.
Despite the freedom given to expatriates, there are caveats. Those who come from Muslim backgrounds can experience pressure from within their own national or ethnic communities, where they’re likely to be living. Meanwhile, church services are strictly monitored to record any political statements and if any Omani nationals are attending, and evangelistic activities among Muslims are forbidden. The online activities of both Christians and churches can also come under the scrutiny of the authorities.
Omani society is still very tribal and levels of pressure on Christians tend to be higher in rural areas, where social and family control is generally higher. Cities like the capital, Muscat, offer greater possibilities for converts to live a more anonymous life.
"I woke up and thought that my children had switched on the light, but the light didn’t come from the lamp. It was something different. I got confused. I looked and I saw light, no ceiling. I saw stars, I smelled incense. Then I saw a cloud growing and coming to our room, the cloud filled the room. And then I saw His face."Yacoub from the Arabian Peninsula met Jesus through a series of dreams
What has changed this year?
Oman's government continued to strictly monitor and keep a tight grip on the Christian community in the country, especially Omani believers who converted from Islam, and expatriate Christians involved with the convert community. This has led to several incidents during the World Watch List reporting period.
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula by organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.
- Please pray that converts will be strengthened to withstand the pressure they may feel from their family and society.
- Praise God for the relative openness that foreign Christians experience, and pray that this freedom will expand to native Omanis.
- Pray that migrant workers who experience abuse for converting to Christianity will find a community of faith.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the relative freedom given to foreign Christians in Oman, and that church services are drawing people in. Use their influence to lead others to You and soften the hearts of the authorities towards the wider Christian population. Strengthen all believers who under pressure for knowing You—may they feel Your Holy Spirit, the Comforter, empowering them to stand strong and even boldly share their faith with others. Guard Your people from harm and give Your children wisdom as they navigate opposition from their communities. Grow Your church in Oman, we pray. Amen.