World Watch List 2015

Saudi Arabia

Main Source of Persecution: Islamic Extremism

This year Saudi Arabia is, for the first time, outside the World Watch List Top Ten, although this is due to the considerable increase of persecution in other countries, rather than an improvement for Christians in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a breeding ground for radical Islamists and a major source of funding for terrorism abroad. The open practice of any religion other than Islam is forbidden, and conversion to another faith is punishable by death. Proselytism of Muslims, and publishing or importing Christian materials in Arabic, is illegal.

The Christian population is made up of ex-pat communities and Muslim converts. Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) face the most severe persecution: they run the risk of being physically abused and even killed by their families. Christian migrant workers, often very poor, are often treated as slaves, due to their ethnicity and faith. They are also vulnerable to physical abuse, including rape and sexual harassment.

There are no church buildings allowed, leaving Christians to worship in compounds or at home and police and religious police occasionally raid house churches.

Several worshippers have been detained and deported. Anti-Christian violence is likely to increase as local Christians are growing bolder in expressing their faith.