The 5-5-5 Challenge: A Story of Persecution in Yemen

June 5, 2013 by Open Doors in Stories of Persecution

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Yemen, situated on the Arabian Peninsula, consists mostly of desert. The country’s main source of income comes from its petroleum industry. However, poverty is a big problem in Yemen as one in every three Yemenis is unemployed.

When the winds of the Arab Spring reached Yemen, the government used excessive violence to crack down on protestors. As a result of the unrest many expatriates, including Christians, left Yemen.

In this Middle Eastern nation family and government are the main sources of Christian oppression and persecution. The Constitution declares that Islam is the state religion, and that Shari’a, Islamic law, is the source of all legislation. The government forbids the proselytising of Muslims.

On March 18, 2012 an American language teacher, Joel, was shot dead by gunmen in Yemen’s second largest city, Taiz. Joel was driving to work on a Sunday morning when he was fired on by gunmen on a motorbike. The al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, said it carried out the attack, “in response to a Western campaign to preach Christianity among Muslims.”

The number of Muslim background believers is estimated to be between 500 and 1000. They are not allowed to have their own gatherings and so they meet in secret locations.

Yearly, about five to six Christian converts are imprisoned for a duration varying from a few days, up to half a year. Often, these Christians are not officially charged making it very hard to prove that they are being detained due to their Christian faith.