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Yemen

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Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen
Ai@ce / CC BY-NC 2.0

After decades of almost constant conflict, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. It is also a fertile ground for Islamist terrorism, since militant groups inspired by al-Qaeda are very active there. Islam is the state religion of Yemen, and sharia is the source of all the country’s legislation. Conversion from Islam is considered apostasy, and is a crime punishable by death, although it is not known if the penalty has been carried out in recent years. The very small number of Yemeni Christians, who are all converts from Islam, risk severe reprisals for practising their faith, including arrest, torture and extra-judicial killing. Converts also face danger from their families and communities. It is illegal to evangelise Muslims.

Most Christians in Yemen are expatriate workers from the West, South and East Asia and other Arab countries, or Ethiopian refugees, many of them fleeing from war and persecution at home. Although expatriate Christians are able to worship in their own churches with relative freedom, there have been instances of government interference. Christians have been arrested for “promoting Christianity and distributing the Bible”, and those found to be in possession of Christian literature believed to be intended for evangelism may be expelled from the country.

Expatriate Christians also experience other forms of subtle oppression and discrimination. They are required to gain permission to build churches, and no church buildings are allowed at all in the north of the country. Many Ethiopian Christians also face discrimination. For example, they are not permitted to be buried in Sana’a, the capital city, unless they change their name to a Muslim one.

In the centuries following Christ’s death and resurrection Christianity was strong in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, known today as Yemen, and it was ruled by a line of Christian kings. Yet in the 7th century the country became predominately Muslim, as Muhammad and his followers gradually took power in the whole Arabian Peninsula. Today, the large majority of the population is Sunni Muslim, and Christians comprise less than 0.5 per cent of the population.

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    • A Christian from Loynam village in the Savannakhet province of Laos was arrested on the morning of 29 May and tied to a post before being imprisoned. Two weeks earlier, police and village security officers had gone to Mr Sort’s home and threatened him with eviction from the village and confiscation of all his property if he did not give up his faith. He refused, despite repeated attempts to coerce him. The village chief then seized around £300 of Mr Sort’s money. Give thanks that our brother, who has been a Christian for less than two years, has stood firm in his faith, and ask the Lord to renew his courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

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