Saudi Arabia

The government maintains a strict Islamic system that treats Christians as second-class citizens.

Saudi Arabia

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
12 79/100
Leader Population
King Salman 32.7 million | 1.4 million Christians
Main Religion Government
Islam Monarchy
WWL Rank in 2017 Persecution Level
14 Very High Persecution

All Saudis are considered to be Muslims, and the legal system is based on Sharia (Islamic law). There are no church buildings at all in Saudi Arabia and Christian services take place in secret places. Believers from Muslim backgrounds usually keep their faith hidden - several who were discovered were forced to leave the country in 2016.

PERSECUTION IN SAUDI ARABIA

Rashid had never been in prison before, so when his cell mate, Tareq, stared at him as he entered their cell, he was scared.

"You're the man I'm supposed to talk to," Tareq said, finally.

"I don't think so. I've been arrested for my belief in Jesus." Rashid had become a Christian during his time at a Western university. When he returned to Saudi Arabia, someone overheard him telling his brother about his new faith, and reported him to the religious police.

But Tareq insisted: "In my dreams a man was shown to me. It was your face. You have something to tell me."

Rashid couldn't believe it; even here, God was at work. He shared the gospel with Tareq, who prayed to receive Jesus Christ.

Wahhabism, a strict interpretation of Islam, dominates life in Saudi Arabia, and all Saudis are considered Muslims. The legal system is based on Sharia (Islamic law), and it is illegal to evangelise Muslims; conversion to another religion is punishable by death. There are no church buildings at all, and house churches are raided; Christians risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture.Most Christians in Saudi Arabia are expatriates or migrant workers. There is a growing community of believers among migrant workers, but their employers or 'sponsors' have a great deal of power over them, and they are frequently exposed to verbal, physical and sexual abuse - there have been reports of workers being threatened with rape unless they convert to Islam.

There are also a small number of Muslim-background believers, but they often live out their faith in complete secret. Satellite TV and the internet are enabling Saudis to hear the gospel, and there are many reports of God revealing himself to Muslims through dreams and visions.

HOW WE HELP

Open Doors supports the church in Saudi Arabia by raising prayer and awareness.

PRAYER POINTS FOR SAUDI ARABIA

  • For change in the government’s initiative to reduce the number of migrant workers so jobs can go to nationals; this lowers the numbers of Christians
  • For new Christians to mature and safely share their faith with relatives and Muslim Saudis
  • For those in government, the royal house, and religious police to discover Jesus.

 

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