The term ‘Middle East’ is defined here to include the countries from Mauritania through to Iran and from Sudan and Somalia to Turkey. It is almost impossible to provide exact figures, but the total Christian population forms about 3% (12 million) of the region’s inhabitants. Of this 3%, approximately 65% are Orthodox, 20% are Catholic are 15% are Protestant. There are known Muslim-converts or groups of converts in all of the countries in the region.


The population in the Middle East is estimated to be growing somewhere between 2.2—2.6% a year. There is no sign that the current trend of a decreasing percentage of Christians in the region will change. This declining ratio reinforces their current status as a vulnerable minority, highlighting the continued need for MEC’s work in the region.

 

Status of National Church

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Algeria Libya Mauritania Morocco Tunisia Sudan Egypt Yemen Oman  United Arab Emirates Saudi Arabia Kuwait Iran Iraq Syria Jordan Turkey Palestine Israel Lebanon Northern Cyprus Bahrain Qatar Cyprus Somalia


Region One: No National Church—Countries: Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain—Population 43 million—Large numbers of foreign workforce, including a large number of Christians.

Region Two: Small not legally recognized Church—Countries: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen , Somalia —Population 101 million—Less than 40,000 national Christians.

Region Three: The Church is recognized by the government—Countries: Egypt, Sudan, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran—Population 321 million—most national Christians live in this region.

Choose a country or region to get more information on it.

Latest Requests

  • Sudan: Update on pastors on trial

     

    Posted on 3rd July 2015


    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

    Christians in Sudan request our continued prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing yesterday, 2nd July. They also request prayers for their lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa, and an associate, Pastor Hafez, both of whom were briefly detained on 1st July.

    Yesterday the judge questioned Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith, focusing on why they should be involved in Christian ministry in an Islamic country, and decided their case would continue to trial. The next hearing has been set for 14th July. The two pastors' lawyer has been denied access to them. Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were arrested in December 2014 and January 2015 respectively and charged with multiple offences, including undermining the constitutional system and espionage (offences which carry the death penalty) and blasphemy (which may be punished by whipping).

    On 1st July Pastor Hafez of the Evangelical Church in Bahri (where Pastor Yat preached before his arrest) and Mohaned (the lawyer not only for the two pastors but also for the church) were arrested and detained briefly before being released on bail. The authorities had come to destroy part of the church complex, on the order of government officials. When Pastor Hafez and the lawyer complained that the government employee was attempting to destroy part of the church compound that was not within the government order, they were both arrested for obstructing a public servant in the exercise of his duties. The government employee continued to destroy the part of the compound that was not within the order.

    The lawyer was driven to the police station but the pastor was made to walk there in handcuffs - a deliberate attempt to humiliate him. During his detention Pastor Hafez was hit on the side of his head with a gun. After his release he needed to go to hospital for x-rays.

    It is not yet known when the case against Pastor Hafez and the lawyer will be brought to court.

    Christians in Sudan ask us to pray that:
    a. Pastor Yat, Pastor Reith, Pastor Hafez and the lawyer Mohaned, together with their families, will know the Lord's peace and protection
    b. all charges against them will be dropped
    c. church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing pressures against them
    d. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Iran: Christian released after 40 months in prison

     

    Posted on 1st July 2015

    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

    Middle East Concern is pleased to report that a Christian prisoner in Iran has been released. This is a wonderful answer to prayer requests made by MEC over the last three years.

    Homayoun was arrested on 8th February 2012 in Shiraz as part of a raid on a house church. He and three others were sentenced to 3 years and 8 months in prison.

    Homayoun was released on bail on 10th November 2014, but in January this year his bail conditions were cancelled and he was recalled to serve the remainder of his sentence, which was due to be completed in October 2015. The three other prisoners were released in December 2014 and January 2015.

    In April Homayoun's family were disturbed to find that they were unable to visit him or make contact as he had been transferred to a notorious punishment ward in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, possibly on account of his evangelistic activity in prison.

    Homayoun was transferred back to the general ward on 1st June and released on Sunday 28th June.

    Homayoun and his family thank all who have been praying for them and advocating for his transfer out of the punishment ward and for his early release.

    Iranian Christians rejoice with Homayoun and his family, praising God for his release. They request our continued prayers for Homayoun and those who are still imprisoned on account of their Christian faith and activities.

    Please pray that:
    a. Homayoun will recover quickly from the trauma of his imprisonment, experience healing and adjust to normal family life
    b. those awaiting a court hearing or an appeal will know the Lord's presence, comfort and peace, and that the Lord will guide the judges in their decisions
    c. those serving their sentences will be encouraged and strengthened in their faith and experience the love of God and the presence of Christ
    d. the intimidation of Christians in Iran will not result in fear, but instead that faith will be strengthened and a clear witness maintained
    e. all prisoners in Iran will be treated with respect and dignity, as beings created in the image of God, and that those imprisoned unjustly on account of their faith in Jesus will be released soon
    f. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Jerusalem: threats against Christians

    Posted on 30th June 2015
     
    Greetings in the name of Jesus.
     
    Christians in Jerusalem have expressed concern over Islamist threats to the Christian community and have requested prayer.
     
    On Thursday 25th June leaflets were distributed in East Jerusalem by a group calling itself “Islamic State in Palestine”. The leaflets bore the black flag used by Daesh (Islamic State in Iraq and ash-Sham). The message in the leaflets warned that if Christians do not leave Jerusalem before the end of Ramadan on 18th July they may be killed. Threats were also made against Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority.

    Religious leaders in the Muslim and Christian communities of Jerusalem were quick to condemn the leaflets and threats. The Director General of Caritas in Jerusalem,  Fr Raed Abusahliah, has said the incident has caused alarm among some Christians and demonstrates the vulnerability of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
     
    In recent months there have been a number of disturbing incidents affecting Christians in Jerusalem's Old City. On 5th  May Muslim youths attacked the homes of Christians and caused damage to the Ethiopian Patriarchate in Old Jerusalem, removing the cross from the building and writing anti-Christian graffiti.
     
    There are increasing reports of activity under the banner of “Islamic State” among Palestinians. At the beginning of May a consignment of 120 rings bearing the “Islamic State” insignia, sent from Turkey and destined for Ramallah, was discovered at Ben Gurion Airport and confiscated. Israeli intelligence officials noted that, although this was a minor incident, the consignment indicated a degree of affiliation to “Islamic State” within Palestinian communities.
     
    Sheikh Issam Ameera, an imam at the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, recently posted online a video of a sermon entitled "The Islamic State is the keeper of religion and state", in which he indicated that Muslims must constantly be at war with the "polytheist enemy". While this is interpreted as referring to Christians, his wider threats were clearly also directed at Jewish communities.

     

    Christians in Jerusalem request our prayers that:
    a. the authorities will bring to justice those responsible for distribution of the threatening leaflets
    b. the Christian community in Jerusalem will not be fearful and will respond wisely to provocations
    c. the leaders of the different religious communities in Jerusalem will work together for the peace of the city and avoid inflammatory comments or provocative behaviour
    d. “Islamic State” will not gain a strong foothold among Muslim Palestinians
     
    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Sudan: Update on pastors on trial

    Posted on 25th June 2015

     

    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

     

    Christians in Sudan request our continued prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing today, 25th June.

     

    At today's hearing the prosecution produced one person who gave testimony, but brought no new evidence against the pastors. The next hearing is due to be on 2nd July. At that hearing the judge will allow the two pastors to speak and he can question them. Afterwards he will decide whether to drop the case against them (if he believes there is no bases to the charges), or whether to allow the case to continue.

     

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January respectively. They have been charged with a range of criminal offences. These include crimes against the state which are punishable by death, a life sentence or lesser detention and confiscation of property.

     

    On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The defence lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

     

    Please pray:

    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection

    b. that all charges against them will be dropped

    c. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing pressures against them

    d. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

     

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.

     
  • Sudan: pastors trial update

    Posted on 18th June 2015

    Greetings in the name of Jesus.

    Christians in Sudan request our prayers for Michael Yat (49) and Peter Yen Reith (36), two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Khartoum who had their latest hearing today, 18th June.

    At today's hearing the prosecution produced one person who gave testimony, but brought no new evidence against the pastors. The next hearing is due to be on 25th June. The prosecution said they have two more witnesses to give testimony.

    In the legal process the next step is for the judge to make a preliminary ruling on whether he believes there is any basis for the charges against the two pastors. If there is no basis, he will drop the charges and the case will be finished. Otherwise he will allow the case to proceed to trial.

    The defence lawyer believes the judge will make this ruling at the next hearing due on 25th June and, although there is not really any evidence against the pastors, the lawyer expects that the judge will allow the case to proceed to trial.

    Pastor Yat and Pastor Reith were detained in Khartoum by the NISS on 14th December and 11th January respectively. They have been charged with a range of criminal offences. These include crimes against the state which are punishable by death, a life sentence or lesser detention and confiscation of property.

    On 4th June the pastors were transferred from a low-security prison in Omdurman to the high-security Kober Prison, where they are held in separate cells. Kober Prison administrators have denied the pastors access to their families and lawyer. The defence lawyer has been informed that the pastors were transferred because Western visitors took photographs of them, and because an interview they gave was broadcast by a Christian media organisation.

    Please pray:
    a. that Pastors Yat and Reith and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection
    b. that all charges against them will be dropped
    c. that church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing pressures against them
    d. that all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him

    May be circulated to general mailing lists, outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.