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#11 in Christian persecution, Iraq

What does persecution look like in Iraq? What is life like for Christians?

After years of violence, an uncertain peace has come to Iraq—but 2020 saw recurrent violent protests and the instability in Iraq is a catalyst for the ongoing persecution of Christians.

Christians from a Muslim background often keep their faith a secret, because of the pressure and threats they are likely to receive from extended family members, clan leaders and the wider society. Christian converts risk losing inheritance rights or the right to marry—and they are not allowed to marry Christians, as the law still considers them Muslim.

Islamic extremists remain active in Iraq, attacking and kidnapping Christians. The government also discriminates against Christians in various contexts, from the workplace to check points. Blasphemy laws can also be used against those who try to spread the gospel.

Meet Father Ammar

“In this crisis we are once again reminded how weak we are as human beings and how much we need the Lord’s salvation.”

What has changed in Iraq?

Persecution faced in public and private life has not changed significantly, but the level of violence faced by Christians has increased sharply in the past year—which is largely the reason that Iraq has risen in ranks from number 15 to number 11 in the World Watch List. This is due to more reports of churches being closed after attacks by Turkey in northern Iraq, and a slight increase in the number of Christians who were abducted.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Christians from a Muslim background are most vulnerable to attack and other forms of persecution in Iraq.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Iraq?

Open Doors works through local partners and churches to support Christians in Iraq through Bible distribution, various forms of training, emergency and crisis relief, and micro-loans and livelihood projects for long-term self-reliance.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Pray for Iraq

  • Pray for a breakthrough in Iraq and an end to the waves of violence. Ask the Lord to put peace into the hearts of Christians—and those who persecute them.

  • Pray God would turn the hearts of Iraq’s leaders to Him. Pray that they will be given wisdom to lead their country with righteousness and mercy.

  • Praise God for the amazing opportunities that people experience when it comes to sharing the gospel. Pray for a holy thirst and hunger among the people of Iraq for God.

Stories from Iraq

July 1, 2021

Iranian prisoner calls for prayer: ‘I need comfort from the Lord’

March 19, 2021

Terminally ill and 62—Christian convert faces prison in Iran

January 18, 2021

13 Christians murdered for following Jesus—every day

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