Where Persecution Comes From
Comoros is a majority-Sunni Muslim nation, with a constitution that secures Islam as the state religion in this eastern African country. Nearly all leaders from the government, local communities, and the Muslim majority persecute Christians, who make up only 0.5 percent of the population. Family members of believers also play a large role in hindering the practice of their faith. Evangelizing is illegal, and believers are expected to practice their faith in secret, if at all. Although the nation is facing substantial poverty, the government makes it nearly impossible for Christian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in the country.
How Christians are Suffering
While all Christians in Comoros suffer persecution, the degree and type of persecution varies. A general rule for believers from any background or community is that they cannot discuss their faith in public. In some parts of the country, radical groups intimidate Christians with threats of violence, although acts of violence are not commonplace. Converts can be legally prosecuted for leaving Islam, but they experience even greater persecution at the hands of their own families and communities. They are constantly under pressure to return to Islam, leading many to live out their Christian faith in secret.
While the political climate in Comoros seems to indicate an increasing appreciation of democracy, radical Islam in the country is also growing. The constitution still states that all public policies must be based on Islamic beliefs, so few legal provisions exist for Christians.
Christian converts are still expected to send their children to Islamic madrasas (colleges for Islamic instruction) for schooling, where pupils are taught Islamic principles and learn to read the Quran.
Radical Islamic scholars, locally known as djaulas, are pushing for stricter Sharia law (Islamic law) in Comoros, meaning that believers could be further forced to comply with Islamic rites and customs.
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