Tunisia had one of the most repressive governments. When the levels of corruption became intolerable, coupled with economic instability, a sudden and explosive wave of street protests ousted the authoritarian president,Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. On January 14, Ali who had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years fled the country. Demonstrations continue as protesters rage against interim governments vying for power. An anonymous Tunisian Christian told Open Doors; “I am grateful that the shops in my neighborhood opened up today. But the rioting and violence continues and it is not safe at all in other parts of the capital.
Tunisians hold their breath, uncertain how the situation will develop. Also for the 1,000 to 1,500 Tunisian Christians and approximately 20,000 foreign Christians in the country, the future is uncertain. The local Christian shares, “The situation under Ben Ali [the former president] was not good, but at least there was some stability in the country and, relatively speaking, there were some opportunities for the church as well. We don’t know what we will experience [with the new government]. Pray that there will be more freedom for the church.”
Since 1956, when Tunisia gained independence, the government has not permitted any Protestant Christian group permission to establish new churches. Without registration, Christians have met in houses and there is still low tolerance for non-Muslims. Since 2007, believers from a Muslim background have experienced more pressure, being questioned and investigated by the police, and expatriates have faced more difficulties obtaining visas. The Open Doors Africa team asks for prayers for Tunisia as well as neighboring countries like Algeria and Libya; specifically for stability and more freedom for the Christians in these countries.
Father today we join with Christians in Tunisia and ask that You would bring stability to that country and the government in particular. Bring an end to the violence and protect your flock during this time of transition. We pray for a mighty expansion and revival of Your Church in not only Tunisia but in the surrounding nations of Algeria and Libya. May Your sovereign hand be with the governmental leaders and may Your Word and glory reign. Amen
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