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ETHIOPIA

DJIBOUTI

Population: 90 million Majority Religion: Christianity (61%) Persecution Category: Significant

Population: 964,000 Majority Religion: Islam (97%) Christian Population: 15,000 Persecution Category: Limited

The Federal Republic of Ethiopia was never colonised, apart from Italian occupation from 1936 to 1941. It has suffered from drought, famine and violent political upheaval and has waged war against Eritrea. The majority of Christians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which was the state church from 1270 until 1974, when a Marxist junta overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. The new regime persecuted all perceived opponents including Christians, especially evangelicals, killing many and destroying churches. The overthrow of the junta in 1991 led to stability, and freedom for Christians.

The Republic of Djibouti gained independence from France in 1977. Tension between its two main ethnic groups (of Somali and Ethiopian origin) led to civil war in the 1990s. Djibouti suffers from food shortages and very high unemployment, and depends on French aid, but its strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea has attracted large French and American military bases, fostering relative peace and safety.

However, while the constitution protects religious freedom, some Christians face discrimination and violent Islamist attacks. About 34% of Ethiopians are Muslim, and in the predominantly Muslim west, pastors and evangelists are sometimes attacked, homes burned and meetings raided, with worshippers beaten and occasionally killed. Thousands of Christians have fled the west. Also, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has caused problems for members joining renewal movements or leaving for other denominations.

Djibouti’s constitution grants religious freedom, but Islam is the state religion and the government attempts to control Christianity, recognising only the French Protestant, Roman Catholic and Ethiopian Orthodox churches. These churches sponsor several much-needed aid projects. Expatriates enjoy religious freedom, and there are evangelical fellowships amongst immigrant groups, but evangelism is discouraged (although not illegal) and the small number of converts from Islam face pressure from religious leaders in their communities and persecution from family and society, including ostracism, beatings and even murder.

Sub-Saharan Africa

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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...

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