Yemen Facts

Score:85/ 100
Region:Middle East
Persecution Type:Islamic oppression
Persecution Level:Extreme
Christians:A few thousand, unspecified
Main Religion:Islam
Government:Islamic republic
Leader:Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed

Profile of Persecution

Violence 16%
Church Life 99%
National Life 99%
Community Life 98%
Family Life 99%
Private Life 99%

Civil war and strict Islamic oppression

An ongoing civil war in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent memory, making an already difficult place for Christians even harder. The war has allowed radical Islamic groups to expand their operations in certain areas, leading to Christians being abducted and killed. Open church activities are forbidden and leaving Islam is not allowed. Muslims who decide to follow Jesus could face the death penalty.

Yemen is a strongly Islamic nation, and all Yemenis are considered Muslims. The maximum scores in the national and church spheres of life is typical of a country where Islamic oppression is the main persecution engine and most Christians come from a Muslim background.

How Christians are suffering

The Church in Yemen is composed mostly of Yemeni Christians with a Muslim background who need to live their faith in secret. They face persecution from the authorities (including detention and interrogation), from family and from radical Islamic groups who threaten these believers with death if they do not re-convert to Islam. Tribal law prohibits members from leaving the tribe, and the punishment for denouncing Islam can be death or banishment. Both male and female converts to Christianity married to Muslims risk divorce and losing custody of their children.

Christians suffer from the general humanitarian crisis in the country, but Yemeni Christians are additionally vulnerable since emergency relief is mostly distributed through Islamic organizations and local mosques, which are allegedly discriminating against all who are not considered to be devout Muslims.


Various Christians were detained for faith-related reasons during the 2020 World Watch List reporting period. According to sources, both religious and non-religious factors are often involved in these cases.

At least a dozen Christians were mentally or physically abused as a result of their faith and the war situation, the threat mostly coming from families and communities.

Several Christians had to leave their houses and relocate in the country out of fear of assassination for their faith or for war-related reasons.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).
Number of Christians statistic is an Open Doors estimate.


Pray for Yemen

  • Both male and female converts to Christianity risk being divorced by their Muslim spouse and losing custody of their children. Pray for the conversion of their spouses and children.
  • Serious pressure from family members has caused some isolated Yemeni Christian converts to flee the country. Pray they find Christian community.
  • Assisted by the chaos of civil war, Islamic militant groups have become more influential. The insecurity this causes increases the opportunity for the oppression of minorities, including Christians. Pray for peace and protection.
  • The situation in Yemen is considered an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Emergency relief is mostly distributed through Islamic organizations and local mosques, which are allegedly discriminating against all who are not considered to be pious Muslims. Pray God provides for Christians’ needs.

Stories from Yemen

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