World Watch List: 37
Leader: President Beji Caid Essebsi
Population: 11.6 million
Main Religion: Islam
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
In cooperation with local churches and partners, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Tunisia through:
- Bible and Christian literature distribution
- Socio-economic development
The only country in which the Arab Spring had a positive result, Tunisia is considered to be more advanced than most North African countries in terms of socio-economic development and civil rights. Freedom of religion is stated in the Constitution of Tunisia, and conversion from Islam is not prohibited by law. However, the Tunisian society and culture, especially in rural areas, remains anti-Christian. There are also currently Islamic militants creating fear and unrest in the country.
Growing number of believers
All Tunisian Christians come from a Muslim background. Their numbers started growing in the 1990s and it has not stopped. These believers face persecution from their families, relatives, and communities. Turning away from Islam is not just seen as religious betrayal, it is also a betrayal of the entire family. Very often their Muslim families will threaten and pressurise them to recant their new faith. Believers may also be physically or sexually abused, locked up at home, or eventually, kicked out of their homes. They can also be expelled from school. Several believers have had to relocate inside the country because of the pressure.
Even though they face various opposition, believers are able to seek and receive information on Christianity, especially from the Internet. The situation for Christians is comparatively better in the capital Tunis, than in rural areas. Christian expatriates in the country are relatively free to worship, as long as they do not publicly evangelise.
Gender specific persecution
Unmarried female believers from a Muslim background fear being forcefully married to a Muslim, usually an older man. They may also be pulled out of school or their jobs, and confined at home. Those who are married can be divorced and lose custody of her children.
- For Christian youth who are rejected and persecuted by their families and friends for their faith.
- That believers will be bold and wise in sharing Christ’s love with their Muslim family members and friends.
- That God will open the eyes and hearts of Tunisians to see Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.