What does persecution look like in Tunisia?
Christians comprise a tiny minority in Tunisia. Traditional churches such as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, which largely serve foreign Christians, are officially recognized by the government and enjoy a relative amount of freedom, although public evangelism is not tolerated.
Tunisian Christians, however, are not officially recognized and do not have officially recognized church buildings. Tunisians who convert from Islam to Christianity face a level of hostility that forces many to keep their faith secret. This is especially true in the south, where the Muslim population is more conservative. Gathering with other Christians brings risk of exposure due to monitoring by the Tunisian security services. If a believer's faith is discovered, it can have a damaging impact on their daily life, including verbal and physical abuse, rejection by loved ones and job insecurity.
But despite these pressures, the number of Christians from a Muslim background is growing gradually.
Converts living in the south are especially susceptible to hostility, as the Islamic population there tends to be more conservative. Urban areas, including the capital Tunis, offer believers a place to escape where they can enjoy relatively more freedom. Meanwhile, violent Islamic militants are particularly active in the border areas to the south. They are likely to target believers, whether indigenous or foreign, if the opportunity arises.
"I trust that God is with us as we see more hardship. We have resilience because we know who our Saviour is. I also rejoice as more hardship makes young people come to Him. This week, I connected with four new seekers under 19 years old."Aizah
What has changed this year?
There are fears that persecution may worsen if President Kais Saied remains in power. Legislative elections in December 2022 drew a low turnout, and in January there were protests against his near-control of the country. "We see the current president changing the legislature and government in the country towards his interests," says the coordinator of Open Doors' work in North Africa. "We expect that the position of the church will further deteriorate if he stays in power."
Open Doors works with local partners and churches in North Africa to provide leadership and discipleship training, livelihood support, legal aid, trauma counselling, Bibles and pastoral care.
- Please pray that isolated converts will be connected to other believers and draw comfort from knowing they have a family in the church.
- Pray for those who take risks to meet together—that they would know the peace only Jesus can give.
- Ask that the church will continue to grow and that Christians will one day be able to worship freely.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the bravery of Your children in Tunisia. May they not become disheartened when they encounter setbacks, but continue to grow in faith. Provide fresh and exciting opportunities for believers to gather, so that no believer will be without fellowship. Provide for those forced to flee their homes, may they quickly feel at home wherever they relocate. Give them supernatural strength to cling to You when the pressure is most intense. Help all believers to "fan into flame the gift of God, knowing that, the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Amen.