Year: 2021
World Watch List: 11
Score: 82
Leader: President Barham Salih
Population: 41.5 million
Christian: 175,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Iraq through:
  • Bible distribution

  • Discipleship Training

  • Emergency and crisis relief

  • Microloans and livelihood projects

Meet “Father Ammar”

“In this crisis we are once again reminded how weak we are as human beings and how much we need the Lord’s salvation.”

Persecution type: Clan oppression/Dictatorial paranoia/Islamic oppression/Organised crime and corruption

What does persecution look like in Iraq?

After years of violence, an uncertain peace has come to Iraq – but 2020 saw recurrent violent protests and the instability in Iraq is a catalyst for the ongoing persecution of Christians.

Christians from a Muslim background often keep their faith secret, because of the pressure and threats they are likely to receive from extended family members, clan leaders and the wider society. Christian converts risk losing inheritance rights or the right to marry – and they are not allowed to marry Christians, as the law still considers them Muslim. 

Islamic extremists remain active in Iraq, attacking and kidnapping Christians. The government also discriminates against Christians in various contexts, from the workplace to check points. Blasphemy laws can also be used against those who try to spread the gospel.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Christians from a Muslim background are most vulnerable to attack and other forms of persecution in Iraq. 


  • Pray for a breakthrough in Iraq and an end to the waves of violence. Ask the Lord to put peace into the hearts of Christians – and those who persecute them.
  • Pray that God would turn the hearts of Iraq’s leaders to Him. Pray that they will be given wisdom to lead their country with righteousness and mercy. 
  • Praise God for the amazing opportunities that people experience when it comes to sharing the gospel. Pray for a holy thirst and hunger among the people of Iraq for God.

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Related News

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This Easter, join with us in praying for the persecuted church – to be protected from attack, and to know afresh the wonder of the gospel.

Christmas Now An Annual National Holiday In Iraq

Just before Christmas, Iraqi politicians made some amazing changes: cementing Christmas Day as a national holiday and establishing a committee to return stolen properties to their rightful Christian owners.

Iraqi children make Christmas wishes a long way from home

What are you hoping for Christmas this year? Some of the children from Father Zechariah’s church in Erbil, Iraq share their hopes and dreams for Christmas and the year ahead. 

2021 World Watch List Map

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