Christ in Qatar

I am currently waiting around at the Hamad International Airport in Dohar, Qatar. It is named after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, the former Emir, who abdicated in 2013. By all accounts a typical authoritarian Arab ruler, he had generally cordial relations with Israel and the West. His country is one of the richest in the world, sitting on vast reserves of natural gas and crude oil, prices of which are now sky high on account of Mr Putin’s misjudged war. Despite the riches and international popularity, Qatar has a poor record when it comes to human rights. Migrant workers are little better than slaves, being unable to leave the country without their ‘employer’s’ permission. Open Doors ranks the country 18th worst on its scale of persecution, commenting:

Christians in Qatar are primarily foreigners who tend to be migrant workers. These foreign Christians are much freer to live out their faith in Qatar than the nationals, although foreigners might also experience pressure. And foreign churches are often monitored by the government and limited to specific areas.

A small number of indigenous converts form the other group of Christians in Qatar. These believers face extreme pressure from their Muslim families and community. The country doesn’t officially recognize conversion from Islam, which causes legal troubles and loss of status, child custody and property. Foreign converts from Islam may be able to avoid some pressure by joining a more international community, but the bottom line is that in Qatar both indigenous and migrant converts risk discrimination, harassment and police surveillance for their faith.

For all their wealth, advanced economic status and global acceptance, the Lord Jesus will hold Arab persecutors in contempt on the great day He appears. This evening, while sharing their soil, I prayed for fellow believers in this arid land, that the Lord would strengthen them and multiply their numbers.

Image by Gustav Brandt from Pixabay