The Qatari Constitution declares that ‘freedom to practice religious rites shall be guaranteed to all persons in accordance with the law and the requirements of the maintenance of public order and morality.’ In reality, expat Christians are restricted in practicing their faith. The government prohibits proselytizing of non-Muslims and restricts public worship, which is usually only allowed in assigned compounds. Foreign workers who evangelize are frequently deported. Some have had the renewal of their visa denied afterwards. During the current reporting period, several foreign workers were deported for their Christian activities. Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Members of an ethnic religious group from North Africa but primarily Egypt, where they are the largest Christian denomination in the country. More, and Asian Christian churches have legal status and only expats can attend. Recognition is hard to obtain, at least 1,500 registered congregants are required.
A Muslim who converts from Islam to another religion is considered an apostate and may face the death penalty. However no execution or other punishment for apostasy has been recorded since the country’s independence in 1971. Nevertheless, converts face severe persecution from their families and peers as well as from the government, which does not recognize their conversion and considers them Muslims still. From time to time, we receive reports that Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) are being physically harmed for their faith by family or peers, who view the conversion as harming the honor of the family. As a result of this oppression, MBBs strongly protect their anonymity.