Syria

World Watch ranking: 12
Map thumbnail
Leader
President Bashar al-Assad

How many Christians?
579,000 (2.8%)

Main threats
  • Dictatorial paranoia
  • Islamic oppression

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How many Christians are there in Syria?

Syria has about 579,000 Christians, about 2.8% of a population of 20.6 million. The number of Christians in the country continues to decrease, as many have fled conflict and persecution.

How are Christians persecuted in Syria?

Despite Syria's conflict easing slightly in recent years, the challenges facing Christians continue to be numerous and severe.

In areas where Islamic militants are active, leaders of historical churches are particularly vulnerable to attack or kidnap, while most buildings belonging to such groups have been demolished or coopted for Islamic use. For Christians living in these areas, there is little scope for expressing their faith – and many have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Christian women and girls are at particular risk of abduction, sexual harassment and rape.

Christians are particularly in danger in Idlib province in the north west, which is still controlled by Islamic militants; and in Hasakah district in the north east, where Turkish military and Turkey-supported opposition forces are active.

In government-controlled areas, the authorities are tightening their grip on those whom they feel are a threat to social stability – including converts from Islam to Christianity. The attitude of the Syrian government towards churches is determined by the Christian community to which they belong. Although all Christian communities come under pressure, historical churches are in a stronger position to defend their rights than those from non-traditional church groups such as Evangelicals, Baptists and Pentecostals. On the other hand, members of these traditional church communities also face additional risks because they’re recognisable by their clothes.

Meet 'Ibrahim'

“Every week, a Christian person or family I know is leaving the country, especially the younger generation.”ibrahim is an open doors local partner in syria

What’s life like for Christians in Syria?

The level of opposition facing Christians in Syria has broadly remained the same. The key headline from the past year is the devastating earthquakes near the Turkish border, which have added to the challenges faced by many Christians. Open Doors' long-term support for the church through a decade of war and persecution has meant that local churches – many of them Centres of Hope supported by Open Doors – were equipped to immediately serve their local communities and show the love of Jesus. 

Throughout Syria, pockets of conflict persist, and Christians continue to be caught in the crossfire. In some cases, they’re deliberately targeted – as, for example, in Afrin, where Turkish-backed troops are reported to be targeting Kurdish Christians. Those who choose to leave Islam to follow Jesus can face intense pressure from their own families, particularly those living in Sunni Islam regions.

How can I help Christians in Syria?

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

Open Doors works through local church partners and Centres of Hope to strengthen the church in Syria through literature distribution, discipleship and leadership training, trauma counselling, vocational training, relief aid and practical support for internally displaced people and earthquake victims.

please pray

Heavenly Father, Your people in Syria have suffered so much over the past decade. Refresh their spirits and pour new hope into their hearts. May they draw renewed strength and inspiration from Your Holy Spirit as they seek to be salt and light in their communities, particularly following the devastating earthquakes last year. We cry out for peace in their conflict-ridden nation. Show warring factions a better way of living, with the good of all people at its heart. May this year be one of welcome and lasting change in Syria. Amen. 

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