Federal Parliamentary Republic
President Barham Salih
After years of violence, an uncertain peace has come to Iraq—but 2020 saw recurrent violent protests and the instability in Iraq is a catalyst for the ongoing persecution of Christians.
Christians from a Muslim background often keep their faith a secret, because of the pressure and threats they are likely to receive from extended family members, clan leaders and the wider society. Christian converts risk losing inheritance rights or the right to marry—and they are not allowed to marry Christians, as the law still considers them Muslim.
Islamic extremists remain active in Iraq, attacking and kidnapping Christians. The government also discriminates against Christians in various contexts, from the workplace to check points. Blasphemy laws can also be used against those who try to spread the gospel.
“In this crisis we are once again reminded how weak we are as human beings and how much we need the Lord’s salvation.”
Persecution faced in public and private life has not changed significantly, but the level of violence faced by Christians has increased sharply in the past year—which is largely the reason that Iraq has risen in ranks from number 15 to number 11 in the World Watch List. This is due to more reports of churches being closed after attacks by Turkey in northern Iraq, and a slight increase in the number of Christians who were abducted.
Christians from a Muslim background are most vulnerable to attack and other forms of persecution in Iraq.
Open Doors works through local partners and churches to support Christians in Iraq through Bible distribution, various forms of training, emergency and crisis relief, and micro-loans and livelihood projects for long-term self-reliance.