Tunisia

Two groups of persecuted Christians exist in Tunisia: communities of expatriate Christians, and communities of believers from Muslim backgrounds (BMBs).

Tunisia

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
29 61/100
Leader Population
President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi 11,495,000 (23,500 Christians)
Main Religion Government
Islam Republic
Source of Persecution Persecution Level
Islamic extremism High Persecution

BMBs bear the brunt of the persecution, often facing serious, even violent, opposition from family members who discover their faith. In rural areas particularly, society and culture remain anti-Christian, and Tunisian law does little to sufficiently protect believers. Expatriate believers are relatively free to practise Christianity - though public evangelism is not tolerated. Rising militant Islamism is also increasing pressure on believers.

PERSECUTION IN NORTH KOREA

You will stay at home, you are not worthy to study," Maysam's* parents said. Her sister beat her, her mother tried to break her glasses. Her brothers threatened to kill her.

After becoming a Christian, Maysam, a young Tunisian woman in her early twenties, was put under house arrest by her family and forced to stop attending university. But after some time, she was able to escape.

"I am alone now," Maysam said. "My mother told me through the phone that I am no longer her daughter. But I have since found a new spiritual family in the church. God never leaves me alone."

In 2011, social unrest in the country led to the revolution in which authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country. Since the elections in 2014, the two largest parties - one secular and one Islamist - made a coalition government. Neither the secular nor the Islamist party have a favourable position towards Christians.The constitution of Tunisia currently respects freedom of religion and conversion from Islam is not prohibited, but in practice the government often acts very differently.

The authorities block the importation of Christian books in Arabic. Every Tunisian is registered as a Muslim - trying to change this is impossible and leads to repercussions. Judges frequently use Islamic law at their discretion, which does not favour Christians. And acquiring church registration is impossible, it has not happened since Tunisia's independence in 1956.

There are currently only two types of Christians in Tunisia: expatriate Christians and believers from a Muslim background. Whereas expatriate Christians have a relative amount of religious freedom - though they are prohibited from publically evangelising - BMBs, on the other hand, face pressures in all walks of life.

Almost every Christian convert has a story of opposition, rejection or persecution because of changing their faith, particularly young people (like Maysam) and those living in rural areas outside of the capital, Tunis. In the 2017 reporting period, there were three cases of Christians being forced into marriage, more than ten cases of physical assaults on Christian youth by their peers and several attacks on properties owned by believers.

*Name changed for security reasons

HOW WE HELP

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors is supporting the church in Tunisia through:

  • Training
  • Literature distribution
  • Socio-economic development projects
  • Advocacy support.

PRAYER POINTS FOR TUNISIA

  • For young Christians who are rejected or persecuted by their families because of their faith
  • Thank God for the continued faith of Tunisians facing persecution - pray that they will know that God is always with them
  • Ask the Lord to hinder the plans of militant Islamists to create chaos in the country; pray that they will come to know Him instead.
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TAKE ACTION

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