How many Christians are there in Mauritania?
There are believed to be around 11,000 Christians in Mauritania, making them a tiny minority in the country, where most of its five million people are Muslim.
How are Christians persecuted in Mauritania?
Mauritania is staunchly Islamic, making it very difficult for Christians to express their faith. For converts from Islam, it’s almost impossible.
Apostasy (converting away from Islam) is legally punishable by death. There are thankfully no known examples of this in recent years – but the threat remains. Converts risk expulsion from families and loss of livelihood; they may even be forced to leave the country. Baptisms can only be carried out secretly, but many converts are reluctant to do this, fearing the awful consequences of discovery.
Evangelism is strictly forbidden and it can lead to prosecution, whilst activities are restricted to designated places of worship. Most Christians in Mauritania are immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and they can face discrimination in employment, both because of racial and faith-based discrimination. They face additional economic difficulties due to the government's ‘Arabisation’ policy, which leaves less room for foreign workers, especially Christian foreign workers.
Although the growth of the internet and social media helps converts to connect with other Christians, this is still fraught with difficulty due to slow technological development in many regions as well as a lack of privacy within families.
What’s life like for Christians in Mauritania?
With Christianity viewed as a negative Western influence in Mauritania, life for believers in the country is extremely difficult, with many forced to keep their faith secret.
According to Mauritania’s tribal society, women are subject to the authority of their fathers and husbands, meaning those who convert from Islam are viewed as having disregarded their male authority and thus bringing shame on their family. This can lead to house arrest, bullying, forced marriage or divorce, which can mean poverty and destitution.
Christian men who come from a Muslim background can also face accusations of bringing shame on their families, and the consequences can be severe – including ostracism, expulsion, physical abuse and charges of apostasy. For their own safety and wellbeing, they’re likely to have to flee the country.
How can I help Christians in North Africa?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Mauritania. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
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.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the bold faith of our Mauritanian family. Surround all believers with Your love, and give each one a glimpse into the deep and precious work You are doing in and through them. We pray especially for those experiencing severe pressure for knowing You – empower them to persevere in their faith and witness. Provide fresh opportunities for believers to gather and even tell others about You. Soften the staunchly Islamic views that shape Mauritanian society, that the country may move towards greater religious freedom. Pour Your Holy Spirit into every corner of Mauritania; may today be the day of salvation for many (2 Corinthians 6:2). Amen.