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Population: 10.7 million Majority Religion: Islam (99%) Christian population: 23,000 Persecution Category: Significant

Population: 6.4 million Majority Religion: Islam (97%) Christian population: 173,000 Persecution Category: Severe

Street demonstrations in Tunisia in January 2011 led to the resignation of the long-term autocratic president and inspired what became known as the Arab Spring. The replacement transitional government was itself replaced in 2013 as political instability continued.

The overthrow of Colonel Gadaffi in 2011 after ruling for 42 years was one of the most striking events of the Arab Spring. However, ongoing tensions within the transitional government between nationalists and Islamists have thwarted attempts to produce a timetable for elections. This political instability means that Islamist groups in the eastern half of the country have been effectively ruling this area according to their ideology.

In January 2014 a new constitution, considered one of the most progressive in the Arab world, was signed. It enshrines freedom of religion but also pledges to defend the sacred, which could lead to various interpretations. Islamists have been critical of the fact that while Islam is declared to be the state religion, Sharia law has not been recognised as the source of law. Most Christians in Tunisia are Roman Catholic expatriates from many nations, who enjoy considerable freedom. However, the small number of native Christians face pressure from family and society and there are only a few churches composed of Tunisian Christians. Many live as secret believers, as discovery often leads to violence and ostracism from their families.

The growth in influence of Islamists – centred in the city of Benghazi – has led to a marked growth in intolerance of Christians. Under the Gaddafi regime the secret police restricted Christian activities, but the main source of persecution now comes from Islamic militants. A semi-official Islamist police force, based in Benghazi, has rounded up scores of expatriate Christians (mainly Egyptian) and accused them of spreading Christianity to Muslims. Islamic militants were responsible for targeted killings of Egyptian Christians in 2013 and 2014.

North Africa


Church in Chains Global Guide  
Church in Chains Global Guide  

The Church in Chains Global Guide lists 60 countries where Christians face persecution because of their faith. The Global Guide divides the...