A few thousand
President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi
Yemeni Christians mostly are converts from Islam who must live out their faith in secret because conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden both in Islam and in Yemeni law. Christian converts are pressured by both the government and from their communities to recant their faith in Jesus. They might be arrested or interrogated for their faith, and face threats from both family and Islamic extremists who threaten apostates with death. Yemeni culture is extremely tribal, and often the tribal punishment for denouncing Islam can be death or banishment. Both male and female converts to Christianity who are married to Muslims risk divorce—and may lose custody of their children. Yemen is home to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world, and all Yemenis suffer—but Yemeni Christians are additionally vulnerable, since emergency relief is mostly distributed through local Muslim leaders and local mosques. These groups have been accused of discriminating against anyone who is not considered to be a devout Muslim.
“We, the believers, carry hope that helps us with the certainty that tomorrow will be better and that by the will of our Lord, we will pass through this and all the anxieties and fears surrounding us.”
The persecution against Christians in Yemen has continued to be extreme for years, and it’s risen two spots on the 2022 World Watch List from last year’s List. Pressure on converts from Islam is at the highest levels in every part of life. Christians in Yemen continue to face physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment and rape, as well as forced marriages and expulsion for faith-related reasons. Additionally, the presence of Islamic extremist groups—and the continuing destabilization of the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil war—has made daily life a struggle for most of Yemen’s Christians.
Life is dangerous for all Christians in Yemen. But some believers in certain areas are at particular risk, such as Christians living in the south, where there is a strong al-Qaeda presence. Converts from Islam to Christianity have also indicated that there is more pressure in the Shiite Muslim-controlled areas in the west than in areas under control of the Sunni government. The Shiite-controlled areas—which comprise approximately one-third of Yemen’s territory—are heavily policed: any dissenting opinion is rigorously repressed and likely to lead to imprisonment, torture and possibly worse.
Open Doors supports the Body of Christ around the Arabian Peninsula through prayer, the distribution of biblical resources and the training of believers and pastors. To protect the people involved, we do not make detailed information on these programs public.