Many Christians fled Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein as persecution escalated. As Islamic State has taken control of large parts of the country, Christians and other minorities have been forced to covert, pay a punitive tax or be killed. An estimated 100,000 people fled their homes in Mosul, a city in a largely Christian region in northern Iraq, as Isis advanced on the region in late 2014. In Iraq, there have been public execution-style killings of Christians by Isis, some of them recorded and broadcast for propaganda purposes.
Islam is the official religion, and any ethnic Persian who converts to Christianity is considered apostate. Converts to Christianity from Islam make up the largest group of Christians and experience the most persecution. Other Protestant Christian communities who evangelize Muslims are the second most persecuted group. Armenians and Assyrians living in Iran are allowed to practice Christianity, but are often treated as second-class citizens. Churches are monitored and raided by the government.
Christians in Yemen are forced to keep their faith a secret. Tribal leaders in the country often punish people who wish to eave Islam, and al-Qaida, which is active in the country, has been known to kidnap and kill Yemini Christians. Despite major persecution, reports show that more Muslims are turning to Christ in Yemen than ever before.
In Eritrea, Christians are considered a threat to the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. The Eritrean regime is authoritarian and intolerant towards any form of association, dissent and free expression. Many Christians in Eritrea have had their houses attacked or been tortured, beaten and imprisoned. There are reports that some have been held in shipping containers in scorching conditions, and have died as a result.
The persecution of Christians continues to increase around the world. Claiming Christ in parts of the world can lead to violence and death. Let’s pray for Christians around the world who are persecuted, imprisoned or harmed for their faith. We ask that believers in these countries would be able to fix their eyes fully on Jesus as they undergo persecution for following Him.