The following is an exclusive interview with a Christian who is able to tell us what life is really like for Christians in Qatar. This tiny country along the Arabian Peninsula is home to the Al Jazeera news agency, well developed with the highest literacy rate in the Arab world, and in 2022, plans to be home to the World Cup. Qatar has a small indigenous population and there are actually more foreign workers than native Qataris. In the mix of all of this are Christians, who face a great deal of persecution.
What is daily life like for a Christian in Qatar?
“The largest part of the Body of Christ in Qatar is actually Christian migrant workers from countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The working conditions are very harsh; the construction sites, where many of them work, are unbearably hot in summer. It is not uncommon that people die from heat stroke or exhaustion.
Christian fellowship inside camps is prohibited and needs to be done in secret. Female migrant workers who work in Qatari homes are vulnerable to sexual abuse and other forms of physical abuse.”
In Qatar, a Muslim who converts is considered an apostate and may face the death penalty. Has this happened recently?
“Fortunately, we have not heard of death penalties against new believers since the country’s independence in 1971.
Should it become known that someone wants to convert to Christianity, the pressure from families or peers is extreme. The following is a quote from a Qatari citizen on what will happen if a son of a Muslim wants to convert to Christianity:
‘When he wants to convert to Christianity? If he’s 10 years old, his dad will show him verses from the Quran. If he’s 15 years old, his dad will take him to a mosque to teach him lessons. If he’s 20 years old, a cousin will kill him or the family will hire someone else to kill him.'”
A third Christian complex is being built in the country (until this year there have only been two in the entire country). Is this a sign of more freedoms for Christians?
“Although it is good that there is a recognized place of worship for Christians, I do not see this as a sign of more freedom for Christians. Christian fellowship is outlawed in the small country of Qatar except for migrant workers in the designated area outside the city.”
How should we be praying for our brothers and sisters in Qatar?
“Pray for indigenous Christians to experience fellowship with other believers. Pray for more openness to other religions; their Islamic culture often stands firm, which makes it difficult for believers.”
*Representative photo used to protect persecuted believer