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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #48

KUWAIT

Country rank

48

Persecution score

63.07

Last year’s rank

43

Region

Middle East  North Africa

Persecution Type

Clan oppression (Strong), Islamic oppression (Strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Medium)

Persecution Level

Very High

Population

4,303,000

Christians

513,000 (11.9%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Main Religion

Islam

Government

Constitutional monarchy (emirate)

Leader

Emir: Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

Open Doors supports the persecuted church in the Arabian Peninsula through:
• Prayer support

ABOUT KUWAIT

What does persecution look like in Kuwait?

In Kuwait, expatriate Christians are relatively free to worship informally. However, the existing places registered for worship are very small for the number of people gathering, and this can lead to tension between different Christian groups. In addition, it is extremely difficult to obtain a property for gathering for worship. 

Local converts from Islam face the most extreme persecution, as they face pressure from both family members and the local community to recant their Christian faith. These believers risk discrimination, harassment, monitoring of their activities by the police, and even intimidation by vigilante groups. Moreover, conversion from Islam to another faith is not officially recognized and is likely to lead to legal problems in personal status and property matters.  

Expatriate Muslims converting to Christianity experience similar pressures as in their home countries, as they are often living within their own national or ethnic communities. Despite this, there are rarely reports of Christians being killed, imprisoned or harmed for their faith. 

How women experience persecution

Christian women remain especially vulnerable, as women in general in Kuwait are treated as being inferior to men. Although there are relatively few Kuwaiti Christians, many of the foreign domestic maids in Kuwait are Christian. This is significant in a country where the foreign population outnumbers the indigenous population.  

Native Kuwaiti Christian women of Muslim background will encounter severe family pressure to reject their new faith, leading some to seek emigration. Perhaps the most difficult law for Christian converts hoping to establish their own Christian household is that women from a Muslim background are restricted by law from marrying a non-Muslim. 

Housemaids working in Kuwait often face sexual harassment or treatment that’s akin to slavery. The ill-treatment of migrant workers, including sexual abuse, has become a high-profile issue at the international level. Although not primarily faith-related, many Christian domestic migrant workers, almost all of whom are female, experience sexual abuse.  

How men experience persecution

In Kuwait, men who convert to Christianity fear the rejection of their immediate and extended families and the repercussions that has on their livelihood. In this Islamic society, male converts are likely to be ostracized by their families, simultaneously losing their respect and their financial support. Often, this means that Christian men or boys are forced to leave the family home.  

Without family support, it is difficult for men to find or keep their job, and marrying becomes almost impossible. Christian men are especially subject to discrimination and hostilities on the work-floor. Married Muslims who convert have been divorced by their spouses. The isolation of conversion is further amplified by the difficulty that converts from a Muslim background have in forming sustainable church groups.  

What has changed this year?

Pressure remains at a very high level, with converts from Islam bearing the brunt of persecution as they face opposition from both family members and the local community.  

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Kuwait is a very small country with the capital city (Kuwait City) being the center of all activities. The risks that Christians face—especially converts from Islam to Christianity—depend on the sort of community Christians are part of, rather than the geographical area where they live. Kuwaiti converts face the highest risks as Kuwaitis are conservative and family ties are strong. Western Christian expatriates are most often free to practice their beliefs, as long as they refrain from proselytizing. Non-Western Christians with lower levels of skills are more likely to face discrimination and abuse, especially female domestic workers. Many of these are from the Philippines.  

How can I help Christians in Kuwait

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Kuwait?

Open Doors is raising prayer support for persecuted believers in Kuwait. 

Pray

-Pray for the many expatriate Christians who work and live in Kuwait. Ask God to give these believers fellowship, vocations and renewed hope.  

-Pray for the government of Kuwait to provide more freedom for Christians—especially Christians from a Muslim background—to meet, pray and share their faith freely.  

-Kuwaiti Christians who come from a Muslim background are sometimes detained and interrogated by the authorities. They can face severe threats if they continue to practice their faith and meet with other believers. Ask God to give them boldness and perseverance to stand strong in Christ. 

A PRAYER FOR KUWAIT

Father, we come before You and ask You to strengthen Your Church in Kuwait at this very moment. Please give our brothers and sisters in Christ a passion to follow You in the fires of persecution—and let them know You are with them. Guide them with the fortitude to keep their faith and not fall away when they experience these trials. Refine them and lift them up for Your glory. We also pray for the government officials to loosen their grip and to allow more freedom for the Christian community to meet, to worship and to freely live out their faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters from the countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.