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Lenten Focus: Christians in Qatar

For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church and I invite you to join me.


Qatar has slowly risen on the World Watch List over the past few years to number 18 this year. Like many countries in the Middle East, the oppressive Islamist government makes life difficult for believers.

From Voice of the Martyrs:

Qatar is active on the global stage as a mediator of disputes. The state religion is the strict Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam, which is also practiced in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Qatar has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, and foreigners make up about 88 percent of the population. Sharia law is the foundation of the legal system. Qatar has been ruled by the Thani family for nearly 150 years. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani assumed the role of amir when his father abdicated in June 2013. Limited democratic reforms have taken place, and though women in Qatar live under harsh rules, they have been given more freedom in recent years. Qatar has been accused of supporting radical Islamists in the region.

Expatriate believers are allowed to practice their faith openly, but Qatari Christians risk arrest or worse. Government policy strictly limits Christian gatherings. Proselytism of Muslims is forbidden, and merely causing a Qatari to doubt his or her faith is punishable by several years’ imprisonment. Expatriates have been expelled for evangelizing Qataris. Christians are treated as second-class citizens. Criticism of the Muslim faith or the ruling family is a crime. There were no known Qatari believers before 1985, but several have come to the Lord outside the country since then. Up until 2008, there were no churches for foreigners. Eight Christian denominations, which have more than 1,500 members living in the country, have been legally recognized and built or have been allotted land to build a church in the Mesaymir Religious Complex, widely known as “Church City.” Foreigners from smaller congregations may still worship privately, and all foreign churches are forbidden from advertising services or displaying religious symbols on their buildings.

Prayer Points from Open Doors:

  • For migrant workers, many of them Christians from Africa who live in poverty, to keep the faith and be able to worship safely in their homes
  • That the strict government will relax their restrictions on religious freedom for all faiths
  • That Qatar will not continue to fund Islamic terrorism in the Middle East

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