Yemen is the Arab world’s poorest country. With the majority of the Yemini people following Islam, the tiny Christian community there is under constant threat.
“Life for Christians in Yemen is very hard,” a Yemini Christian named Sam told CBN News. “For that matter, across the Middle East, there’s not a country where Christians are not suffering for their faith. This is our reality.” CBN News blurred his face, changed his name and his voice to protect his identity.
Sam was a Muslim, but he converted to Christianity. CBN News met him at an undisclosed location off the coast of North Africa. In an exclusive interview, he said if authorities discovered his real identity he could be arrested or killed.
“All Christians in Yemen are from a Muslim background,” he continued. “According to Islamic Sharia law, it is forbidden for Muslims to convert to Christianity.”
Yemen’s constitution provides for religious freedom, but Sam says it’s a farce.
“The government says there is religious freedom, but that is not true,” he continued. “Christians are routinely harassed. They face daily struggle and persecution, first from their family members; then from the government.”
Some 25 million people live in Yemen. The majority follow the Sunni branch of Islam. No one knows for sure how many, but it’s estimated there are a few thousand secret Christians.
Dr. David Curry is with Open Doors, a group that monitors religious freedom around the world. Every year, the group publishes a list of countries in which Christians face the most persecution.
“Can you believe in the 21st century it is impossible for any Christian in Yemen to own a Bible?” Curry told CBN News. “There aren’t a lot of good options right now for Christians in Yemen. It’s already 14th on the World Watch Open Doors ranking of the most difficult places for Christians.”
Curry says this latest crisis involving Saudi Arabia and Iran will only make it worse for Christians there.
“They are caught between the ideologies of Iran and Saudi Arabia, neither of which allow the free expression of Christian faith,” he said.
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SOURCE: CBN News