Qatar

World Watch ranking: 40
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Leader
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani

How many Christians?
414,000 (13.7%)

Main threats
  • Islamic oppression
  • Clan oppression

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How many Christians are there in Qatar?

There are 414,000 Christians in Qatar, from a population of over three million. Many of the Christians in the country are migrant workers.

How are Christians persecuted in Qatar?

There are two categories of Christian communities in Qatar: immigrants and converts from Islam. They are separate from each other and must be careful when interacting.

Most Christians are immigrant believers. They tend to be migrant workers and enjoy a degree of religious freedom. Large worship events have been allowed in the past, but a shortage of space for churches remains a major issue, with only a select number allowed to establish buildings at the official Religious Complex outside the capital, Doha. However, foreign Christians must be very careful when sharing their faith, as evangelising to Muslims is strictly forbidden and can lead to prosecution and deportation. Many migrant workers have to live and work in poor conditions, while their Christian faith can add to their vulnerability.

Converts from both Qatari and migrant backgrounds can face intense pressure from their families and communities for choosing to follow Jesus, although the latter can avoid this by living within an international community rather than their own ethnic one. For Qataris, conversion from Islam to another religion is forbidden – anyone known to be a Muslim isn't even allowed to enter a church. Many converts keep their faith secret.

In the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, Qatar’s deplorable treatment of migrant workers increasingly caught the world’s attention. Under pressure from the West, Qatar implemented minor – and, according to human rights organisations, cosmetic – reforms in working conditions for migrant workers. In spite of the pressure to improve human rights in Qatar, no major improvements are expected, and no major changes in religious freedom for Christians are anticipated in the near future.

Qatar is increasingly using advanced technology to monitor both citizens and immigrants and there is growing concern that the government will use similar techniques to further develop population surveillance. This has caused Christians in Qatar to become increasingly careful in their movements and gatherings.  

Meet a church leader

“God is visiting people in their dreams. God is doing miracles. God is doing healings among the Qatari people.” A church leader from Qatar

What’s life like for Christians in Qatar?

In Qatar’s conservative Islamic culture, women and girls are subject to guardianship by their male family members, and accepted cultural privacy standards dictate that whatever happens in the family home cannot be interfered with by the authorities. In this context, it is difficult for any woman to convert from Muslim to Christianity.

Doing so can risk severe consequences, including house arrest, sexual violence or even so-called ‘honour’ killings. Given that women from a Muslim background are legally restricted from marrying a non-Muslim, persecution can also involve forced marriage to a Muslim to try to pressure them to return to Islam.

The challenges facing men who convert to Christianity differ depending on family dynamics. In the ‘best’ cases, wives could agree to live with their husband’s new faith, as long as he doesn’t share it with their children. In other cases, his wife's family could threaten to remove his wife and children. Qatari men are effectively isolated and find it very difficult to meet with other Christians or to grow in their Christian faith. In more extreme cases, men can face physical trauma for their faith.   

Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Qatar?

Qatar fell six places on the World Watch List, but this was mostly due to other countries experiencing a rise in persecution. Violence against Christians fell very slightly in Qatar during the year, but the experience of believers in the country was broadly unchanged.

How can I help Christians in the region?

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Qatar. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.

Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula by organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources, and training believers and pastors.

please pray

Dear God, thank You for the visible presence of churches in Qatar, and we ask that the number allowed will increase. We also pray that the authorities will give Qataris greater religious freedom. Protect secret believers who are vulnerable to persecution. May they remain encouraged and steadfast in their faith, and find opportunities to gather with other Christians and even share their faith with others. Help church leaders as they navigate shepherding their congregations while under the close scrutiny of the authorities. Build Your church in Qatar, we pray. Amen.

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