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Middle East

The future existence of the church in the Middle East has become a major concern in recent years fuelled by the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Christians from the region – many escaping from wars in Iraq and Syria. In other countries, the concept of religious freedom (especially in relation to leaving Islam) is simply not recognised – even in Gulf states viewed as relatively liberal. Rising intolerance and violent threats have made life increasingly difficult for Christians. Israel is the only country in the region not listed in the Global Guide, because there is freedom of religion (including freedom to evangelise). While there are sporadic attacks on churches in Israel, the authorities generally act to protect Christian property. Messianic Jews (Jews who follow Christ) have suffered some discrimination, but this situation is improving.

ARMENIA AZERBAIJAN

UZBEKISTAN

TURKEY

CYPRUS

LEBANON

TURKMENISTAN

SYRIA

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

AFGHANISTAN

IRAQ

ISRAEL

TAJIKISTAN

IRAN

JORDAN

PAKISTAN

KUWAIT EGYPT

SAUDI ARABIA

BAHRAIN QATAR U.A.E. OMAN

SUDAN

YEMEN

ERITREA

ETHIOPIA

DJIBOUTI

SOMALIA

SYRIA

Population: 21 million Majority Religion: Islam (90%) Christian population: 800,000 Persecution Category: Severe Over 150,000 people have been killed in the civil war that began in 2011, while 4 million Syrians have become refugees in neighbouring countries. In many areas of the country, Christians have been targeted by rebels, many of whom want a Sunni Muslim state. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have had to leave their homes, and many have been raped, kidnapped for ransom, tortured and killed. Over 30% of Syria’s churches have been seriously damaged or totally destroyed as a result of the fighting. Syrian church leaders have warned that the continuing violence threatens the very existence of the church in Syria. Before the civil war, Syria was one of the safest places in the Arab world for Christians, who were allowed to worship and practise their faith without much official interference. Most Syrian Christians were Orthodox or Catholic; there was also a small but growing Protestant church.

Middle East

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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...

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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