Of Qatar’s population of around 3 million, about 409,000 people are Christian – including many migrant workers. Christians make up 13.7% of the population.
The level of persecution you face as a Christian in Qatar depends largely on whether you are Qatari or not. Most of the Christians in Qatar are migrant workers from other countries: these believers face pressure and discrimination, and their churches are often heavily monitored by the government, but they are freer to worship.
It’s a different story for indigenous believers. Life is much more difficult for them. A new believer is likely to face extreme pressure from their Muslim family and community, if their Christian faith is discovered. Christian women and girls are particularly vulnerable to having their freedoms severely curtailed by the Muslim families – including house arrest without access to outside communication.
Qatar doesn’t officially recognise conversion from Islam, which causes loss of status and legal difficulties concerning property and child custody. Similarly, a Christian from a Muslim background isn’t permitted to marry a non-Muslim.
Expatriate Christians are not free to openly practise their faith, and telling a Muslim about Jesus can lead to prosecution and deportation. Expatriate churches are closely monitored and only a select number have been allowed to establish buildings. Many migrant workers have to live and work in poor conditions, and 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.
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.
Qatar has dropped 16 places on the World Watch List, to number 34. The country has seen a reduction in opposition towards Christians, which is largely due to no churches being closed in 2022. This may be linked to the FIFA World Cup and the spotlight it put on the country’s human rights record. That said, a significant number of churches closed during the pandemic have not been allowed to reopen, and pressure on Christians – especially converts from Islam to Christianity – remains at an extremely high level.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Qatar. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula by organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.
Father God, 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.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.