A recent study by a Christian nonprofit organization found that an increasing number of Muslims are converting to Christianity in Saudi Arabia. In its report, Open Doors—which fights for the rights of Christians in 60 countries—ranked the kingdom as the 14th country in the world to experience the highest incidences of Christian persecution. According to the organization, there are at least 1.2 million Christians in Saudi Arabia, which has a total population of 30 million with the majority identifying as Sunni Muslims. While most practicing Christians in the country are either expatriates or migrant workers, Open Doors stated that Saudi natives are also converting to Christianity.
The study, published earlier this year, revealed that a documented 0.1 percent Christians from 1910 recently shot up to an appalling 4.4 percent. It detailed ways in which Open Doors not only documents instances of Christian persecution in the country but also offers support to Christian converts by making available courses such as Bible and Gospel Development on its website. Such online support has played an important role in the lives of religious converts who are compelled to practice their faith in secrecy due to the kingdom’s rampant persecution of religious minorities.
In a report published by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Saudi Arabia was described as uniquely repressive with several restrictions on the public’s expression of any religion apart from Islam.
“It continues to prosecute, imprison and flog individuals for dissent, apostasy, blasphemy and sorcery and also imposes systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,” read a statement in the report.
USCIRF also stated that Saudi Arabia continues to use a 2014 legislation—which mandates atheism and blasphemy as acts of terrorism—to crack down on human rights activists in the country.
According to the USCIRF, “The government has made improvements in policies and practices related to freedom of religion or belief but it persists in restricting most forms of public religious expression inconsistent with its particular interpretation of Sunni Islam.”
This has prompted USCIRF to recommend on more than one occasion that Saudi Arabia should be designated as a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act. Needless to mention, the kingdom has already been featured on the list in 2004 as well as 2014.
Photo Credits: Syrian Free Press