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Saudi Arabia Facts

Score: 79 / 100
Region: Middle East
Persecution Type: Islamic Oppression
Persecution Level: Very High
Population: 32,743,000
Christians: 1,406,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Absolute Monarchy
Leader: King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 24%
Church Life 98%
National Life 93%
Community Life 85%
Family Life 82%
Private Life 89%

Where Persecution Comes From

Christian persecution is an ongoing and serious problem in Saudi Arabia.  The nation is built on Wahhabism, a purist and strict interpretation of Islam. Public sentiment towards Christians in the country is generally quite negative, and the government maintains a tightly knit Islamic system that treats Christians as second-class citizens. Islamic leaders attempt to impose strict Islamic law on all people in the country, and often pose problems for converts to Christianity. Ordinary citizens pressure these converts as well, given that the majority of the population vehemently opposes any faith other than Islam. Apostasy is punishable by death for those who refuse to recant. As the small number of Saudi Christians grows and they become bolder in sharing their faith, the pressure and persecution they face from family and authorities increases.

How Christians are Suffering

Expatriate Christians make up the majority of the Christian population in Saudi Arabia, but they are severely restricted in their ability to gather for worship or share their faith with Muslims. Engaging in either of these activities is extremely risky; being discovered can lead to detainment or deportation. Saudi Christians from Muslim backgrounds face even greater pressure, and the consequences of discovery are worse, sometimes even including extra-judicial killings. Because of their faith, all Christians, whether Saudis or foreigners, risk imprisonment, physical abuse and threats on their lives. The ongoing rape and sexual harassment of Christian women is particularly concerning.

Examples

Several expatriate Christians were recently arrested and briefly detained in raids on fellowship gatherings. Some local believers were also arrested and falsely accused of having links with extremist groups.

Three house churches were reportedly closed recently, some after being raided by police.
In the past year, several Christians have been forced to leave the country as a result of their beliefs or faith-related activities.

Pray for Saudi Arabia

  • Pray that Saudis who have recently embraced the truth of the gospel would become strong and mature in Christ. Also, pray that they would disciple others until the whole country knows Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that Christian Saudis will find ways to share the gospel with their own family members.
  • Wahhabism, a purist and strict interpretation of Islam, forbids the open practice of other religions. Conversion is punishable by death. Please pray that Muslim Saudis will come to know Jesus.

Stories from Saudi Arabia

February 6, 2018

In Saudi Arabia, Christian Mom’s Secret Faith Survives in Silence

Nawal is so afraid that anyone—especially her husband—will find out about her faith in Christ that she hardly dares to…

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December 22, 2017

A Dangerous and Difficult Season for Thousands of Christians

For persecuted Christians around the world, Christmas brings increased persecution and requires greater caution.

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December 15, 2017

Christmas in a Closed Country: Good Tidings from Saudi Arabia

Inside, they take off their shoes and enter a meeting room decorated with Christmas stars and garlands...

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