What does persecution look like in Qatar?
Christians in Qatar fall into two categories: expat Christians and converts from Islam to Christianity.
Expat Christians form the largest group and are mostly migrant workers from Asia and Africa. They are not free to openly practice their faith, and telling a Muslim about Jesus can lead to prosecution and deportation. Expat churches are closely monitored and only a select number of churches have been allowed to establish buildings. They are restricted to a specially designated compound where space is often insufficient. Many migrant workers have to live and work in poor conditions, while their Christian faith adds to their vulnerability.
Converts from Islam to Christianity face more severe persecution, including discrimination, harassment and police monitoring. Conversion from Islam is not officially recognised and is likely to lead to loss of status and legal problems in property and domestic matters. Most converts are foreign workers, and they often live within their own national or ethnic communities. They typically experience the same pressure they would in their home countries. Qatari believers are few in number and keep their faith secret. They face intense pressure and bullying from their own families. Almost all Qatari Christians converted abroad, and most of them do not return to the country out of fear.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Qatari believers who convert from Islam to Christianity are most vulnerable to persecution. They are considered apostates and face harassment from society and even risk being killed by their family. Family and clan ties are very strong and religion is never just a matter of private belief – it is part of the identity of the extended family and tribe. Leaving Islam is therefore not just a change of belief, it also means leaving the family. This poses a threat to the loyalty of the group, since appearing to be weak brings huge shame on the family, which explains the fierce ways in which families deal with converts.
"The converts are cut off from financial support of their family. Women are locked in their rooms, imprisoned in their homes. Mobile phones are confiscated by family members and their internet connection with their computers cut. Some are verbally or physically abused, beaten up. Women can be forced into a marriage with a Muslim man"Latifah, a Christian from the Arabian Peninsula
What has changed this year?
Pressure on Christians, especially converts from Islam to Christianity, remains at an extremely high level. Many previously closed house-churches were not allowed to re-open, which has made it difficult for the affected Christian communities to gather and encourage one another. Monitoring and surveillance continued to be very pervasive. Culturally, converts continue to face limitations, restrictions and persecution from all angles: the government, society and their own families.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Qatar?
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula by organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.
How can you pray for Qatar?
- Please pray for secret believers in the Arabian Peninsula. Ask God to strengthen their faith and make His presence known, even when they cannot reveal their faith to anyone else
- Thank God for the growing number of Christians in the Arabian Peninsula. Pray that the culture would shift to become more tolerant towards them.
- Pray for protection for Christian migrant workers who face mistreatment at the hands of their employers.
Dear Father, thank You for the Christians in the Arabian Peninsula, who are drawing more people to Christ through their quiet witness. Encourage those who are secret believers. Let them know that You are close to them. Send them dreams and visions to strengthen their faith. Cast Your protection over women who are trapped in unhappy or abusive marriages and make a way for them to find freedom. Create safe spaces for Christians to meet, without fear of persecution. Amen.