A Story of Persecution from Bahrain

June 5, 2013 by Open Doors in Stories of Persecution


The Bahraini constitution declares that the religion of the State is Islam and that ‘the State guarantees the inviolability of worship, and the freedom to perform religious rites and hold religious parades and meetings in accordance with the customs observed in the country.’ Sharia (Islamic law) is a principal source for legislation.

This mainly Shia-Islamic country is quite tolerant in general because of its international position in banking and trade. There are two Christian bookshops and several Christian hospitals. A considerable number of expatriate Christians (mainly from South Asia) work and live in Bahrain and are relatively free to practice their faith in private places of worship, but proselytizing Muslims is illegal. While the number of compounds is limited, dozens of congregations must use the same building. They are not allowed to advertise their services in Arabic but they can in English.

Traditionally, society is not tolerant towards converts from Islam to other religious groups. Families and communities often ban them and sometimes subject converts to physical abuse. Muslim Background Believers generally do not dare to talk about their conversion and some of them believed it necessary to leave the country permanently. Pressure comes mostly from family and community, to a lesser extent from the state. Muslim Background Believers are still considered Muslims by the state and a legal challenge to this was not permitted.