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#33 in Christian persecution, Niger

SCORE


67.54


REGION

Africa


PERSECUTION TYPE

Islamic oppression


RELIGION

Islam


PERSECUTION LEVEL

Very High


POPULATION

25,006,000


CHRISTIAN

64,700


GOVERNMENT

Semi-presidential republic


LEADER

President Mohamed Bazoum


PROFILE OF PERSECUTION

Violence 14.8/16.7

Church Life 12.8/16.7

National Life 7.2/16.7

Community Life 13.9/16.7

Family Life 9.5/16.7

Private Life 9.4/16.7


What does persecution look like in Niger?

Once a country known for cross-religious harmony, Niger has entered the top 50 of the World Watch List, reflecting how pressure is increasing on Christians in this Muslim-majority nation.


Most of the population regard Islam as part of their ethnicity: if you are a Nigerien, you are a Muslim. Believers from Muslim backgrounds are therefore the most vulnerable to persecution, and often come under intense pressure from their families and communities to renounce their faith.


Historical Christian communities are generally allowed to practice their faith in private, but in regions under Islamist control, Christians must gather with caution because of an increased threat of violence from militant groups like Boko Haram. In regions near the border with Nigeria, churches have been burned and pastors forced to flee their homes. Meanwhile, the local authorities have occasionally stopped believers from meeting, and the registration process for churches is long and difficult.


What has changed this year?

The persecution dynamic is changing rapidly in Niger, with the country jumping 21 places to enter the World Watch List top 50. This is due to a dramatic rise in violence against Christians. In the past five years, the Sahel region has seen a huge increase in violent Islamist attacks, and the government of Niger has lost a lot of territory to the jihadists. Since 2020, the country has been experiencing a series of attacks by Islamic militants and protesters also at times take their revenge by burning churches. The unpredictability of the situation makes Christians vulnerable.


The pandemic—which has enabled Islamic militants to expand their influence in Niger—is likely a contributing factor in this latest rise. More widely, this trend reflects the increasing violence facing Christians across sub-Saharan Africa.


Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Those who convert to Christianity from a Muslim background face the most pressure from family and society. Christians living in areas under Islamist control or in the region bordering Nigeria are most susceptible to violent attacks, as are those living in the west where Niger borders Burkina Faso and Mali.


What does Open Doors do to help?

Open Doors works through local churches and partners in Niger to strengthen persecuted Christians through economic empowerment programs, leadership and discipleship training, persecution survival training and pastoral care for new believers.


Christian population stat: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds, World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021)

Pray for Niger

  • Pray for violence against believers to stop and the influence of militant Islamist groups to diminish rapidly. Ask God to make violence against believers to stop and for the influence of militant Islamist groups to diminish rapidly.

  • Pray For healing for believers affected by trauma.For healing for believers affected by trauma.

  • Pray Open Doors training programs will equip believers to withstand persecution and serve Jesus in the places where they live.

Stories from Niger


January 18, 2021


13 Christians murdered for following Jesus—every day



July 28, 2020


Violence and COVID-19 turn African Christians into ‘endangered species’



March 24, 2020


4 widows share their stories of loss & hope in Nigeria

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