|Persecution Type:||Islamic Oppression|
|Persecution Level:||Very High|
|Leader:||Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani|
In Qatar, believers experience Christian persecution at all levels of the society bounded by conservative Islamic norms. The government, the local community and even one’s family can be dangerous for Christians, especially for converts from Islam to Christianity. Islam is seen as the only acceptable faith, and Sharia law prescribes a wide range of rules for personal, family and community life. Evangelism is outlawed and can lead to a lengthy prison sentence.
The state religion is conservative Wahhabi Islam. Non-Muslim religious groups (Christians) can only worship in private houses or at a designated compound. Proselytizing is outlawed and can lead to sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment. Tribal norms and values—mixed with Islam—are forced upon Christians. This affects converts in particular.
In addition, Qatar is an absolute monarchy. The government created a welfare state with many financial benefits for Qatari nationals. The government expects obedience in return and does not allow any opposition. Although expatriate Christians are relatively free to practice their belief, authorities monitor all activities.
There are two groups of Christians in Qatar that are strictly separated from each other. Expatriate communities consisting of Christian migrant workers are the biggest group. The government only allows them to worship in public at a designated place outside the capital Doha. Proselytizing Muslims is strictly forbidden and can lead to prosecution and banishment from the country. Many migrant workers have to live and work in poor conditions, while their Christianity adds to their vulnerability. Despite their living conditions, these Christian communities are growing.
The other group consists of converts from Islam to Christianity. Converts from an indigenous and migrant background bear the brunt of persecution. Many indigenous Christians converted outside the country. They face pressure from both family members and the local community to recant their Christian faith. Converts from a migrant background face high pressure and are controlled by their social environment in the labor camps they live in. Even their employers can be a source of persecution.
Both indigenous and migrant converts risk discrimination, harassment, police monitoring and all sorts of intimidation by vigilante groups. Moreover, a change of faith—away from Islam—is not officially recognized and is likely to lead to legal problems in personal status and property matters. Despite this, there are hardly ever reports of Christians being killed, imprisoned or harmed for their faith.
In 2022, Qatar wants to host the FIFA World Cup. The country seems determined to make a good impression—to look like a modern, glamorous, successful country that’s welcoming to anyone willing to spend money and have a good time. However, this cannot hide the other side of Qatar—an intolerant country for non-Muslims with a deep division between the extremely rich Qatari nationals and the hundreds of thousands of often exploited laborers, mostly from Asian countries.
Christians in Qatar are requesting prayers for the current diplomatic crisis their country is in. A growing number of other Arab countries have cut all ties with Qatar. The future for Qatar and its hundreds of thousands of migrant workers – tens of thousands of those being Christian believers - is unclear. Read More
Christian converts in Qatar often feel they cannot share their faith without fearing for their own lives. Read More