#11 in Christian persecution, Saudi Arabia


SCORE

80.89

REGION

Middle East

PERSECUTION TYPE

Islamic oppression

RELIGION

Islam

PERSECUTION LEVEL

Extreme

POPULATION

35,263,000

CHRISTIAN

1,200,000

GOVERNMENT

Absolute monarchy

LEADER

King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

PROFILE OF PERSECUTION

Violence 3.1/16.7

Church Life 16.7/16.7

National Life 15.9/16.7

Community Life 15.0/16.7

Family Life 15.1/16.7

Private Life 15.1/16.7

How the scoring worksDownload country dossier with in-depth research

What does persecution look like in Saudi Arabia?

The majority of the Christians in Saudi Arabia are foreigners who temporarily live and work in the country. Most of these workers come from low- and middle-income countries, and there are numerous reports of migrant workers being abused and being subjected to horrific working and living conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic made this reality even more obvious, as spikes in infections tended to center in migrant communities where sanitation and social distancing were much more difficult. Christian foreign workers can be targeted for their faith, since it’s another way to abuse a worker. Foreign Christians are heavily restricted from sharing their faith or gathering for worship, and any actions outside of the norm can lead to detention and deportation.

There are converts from Islam in Saudi Arabia. Those who came from majority-Muslim countries likely live and work in communities that reflect the cultural norms of their home—so they can be at risk if their social context is opposed to conversion. The few converts who are Saudi Arabian are usually forced to live out their faith in secrecy, risking violence, divorce and more. Nevertheless, there have been some Saudi Christians in recent years who have been bold enough to share their faith, at great risk to their lives.

What has changed this year?

Christian persecution remains high in Saudi Arabia, and has actually gotten worse in the last year. The country remains an extremely difficult place to be a Christian, especially for any native Saudi who finds Jesus.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

The level of persecution in Saudi Arabia is generally the same all over the country, although social control is likely to be higher in rural areas. A possible exception are Western expatriate compounds where there is less control and pressure to adhere to strict Islamic norms.

What does Open Doors do to help?

Open Doors raises prayer support for Christians in Saudi Arabia.

Christian population statistic is an Open Doors estimate.

Pray for Saudi Arabia

  • Many Christians in Saudi Arabia are migrant workers who are already abused for their minority status. Pray for foreign Christians, that they will be protected from mistreatment and will be able to find a Christian community where they can grow in faith and be trained to advance the gospel.

  • Pray for the secret Saudi believers who must hide their faith from friends and family. Ask God to help them know they aren’t alone.

  • Saudi Arabia is home to the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina. The Saudi expression of Islam is often radical and intensely opposed to any deviation. Ask God to soften the hearts of religious leaders and the monarchy, that they would be open to allowing other religions to worship freely in Saudi Arabia.

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