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Iraq Facts

Score: 86 / 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Extreme
Population: 38,654,000
Christians: 258,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Federal Parliamentary Republic
Leader: Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 68%
Church Life 90%
National Life 89%
Community Life 89%
Family Life 88%
Private Life 88%

Where Persecution Comes From

In Iraq, numerous groups contribute to Christian persecution. Radical movements such as the Islamic State (IS) group target Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities for kidnappings and killings. Islamic leaders slander Iraqi Christians in mosques, leading to further persecution. Government officials, both national and local, have threatened Iraqi Christians, “encouraging” them to leave the country. Political parties who hinder pluralism also contribute to the persecution of Iraqi Christians in the public space. Moreover, Iraqi Christians from Muslim backgrounds face serious pressure from their clans, families, and communities, who will sometimes go so far as to try to kill them. At the same time, within Christianity, leaders of historic churches have sometimes thwarted official recognition of newer Iraqi Christian denominations.

How Iraqi Christians are Suffering

In central and southern Iraq, Iraqi Christians usually avoid the public display of religious symbols for fear of harassment and discrimination at checkpoints, universities, workplaces and government buildings. Some Christian organizations are threatened with kidnappings and attacks by Islamic militants. Christian believers, especially those who are outspoken, experience discrimination from authorities and non-Christian leaders, with blasphemy laws sometimes used against them if they witness to Muslims. Converts from Islam often keep their faith a secret to avoid persecution from those around them, sometimes losing their rights to inheritance or marriage.

Examples of Iraqi Christian Persecution

During the most recent World Watch List reporting period, several incidents of  Iraqi Christians from Muslim backgrounds being physically attacked or tortured by their families for converting to Christianity from Islam were recorded.

In May 2017, Middle East Monitor recorded an incidence of hate speech by one of Iraq’s most senior Shiite clerics, who publicly stated that Iraqi Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities must “convert to Islam, pay the religious tax (jizya) or be killed.”

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Pray for Iraq

  • Many encouraging messages report people coming to Christ in the southern parts of Iraq. Please pray for God to provide good shepherds for His people, and that He would fill these converts’ newfound hunger to know Him.
  • Thank God for the many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have been able to return to their villages in the Nineveh Plain since forces drove out the Islamic State group. Please pray for IDPs from the Nineveh Plain who are still stuck– not knowing whether to return to their villages, stay in their current displaced situation, or leave the country entirely.
  • Pray for priests and pastors ministering in Iraq, that they might be living examples of Christ’s presence. Pray for the Body of Christ to keep hope alive in the country that has endured so much.

Stories from Iraq

June 24, 2018

10 of the Top Persecutors of Christians Around the World Today

Christian persecution is on the rise and these are some of the worst offenders around the world.

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April 1, 2018

You’ve Helped Thousands of Christians Return to Iraq

Celebrating Easter here in Qaraqosh sends an important message to the world. Only a year ago, the city was empty.…

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March 30, 2018

On Good Friday, Remember the Ongoing Suffering of Your Brothers and Sisters in Iraq

Adrian is 20 years old and lives in Qaraqosh, Iraq. He is one of the 25,000 Christians who returned there…

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