Leader: President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi
Population: 28.1 million (a few thousand Christians)
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Islamic Republic
World Watch List Rank: 9
Christians have become doubly vulnerable during the current conflict which has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Government officials continue to intimidate Christians and Islamic organisations allegedly discriminate against non-Muslims when providing emergency relief. The growing number of Christian converts suffers violence and pressure from tribal and religious leaders, and extended family. Threats of death from radical Islamic groups, and detention from authorities, force many to conceal their faith. On top of this, migrant Christians experience harassment and discrimination from society.
While there are a few thousand Christians in Yemen, most of these are migrants from other nations. It is estimated that there are just a few hundred indigenous believers in Yemen, and their faith must be kept secret. Islam is the state religion and Sharia is the basis of the law. Evangelism is prohibited, and Yemenis who leave Islam face the death penalty.
Yemen is a tribal society, however, and the national government is secondary to the tribe; the government rarely intervenes in conflicts within a tribe, even if members are being physically harmed or imprisoned. Islam is part of the identity of Yemeni tribes, and tribal leaders are likely to enforce punishments for those who wish to leave Islam: this could mean honour killings, house arrest or, for women, forced marriage.
There has been political turmoil and sporadic violence in Yemen since the former president was ousted in 2012, and in the resulting power vacuum many groups are fighting to gain control, including militant Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. These groups threaten those who leave Islam with death if they do not reconvert.
Despite violence and opposition from every side and the small number of believers, one of our contacts has told us: “This time of upheaval and war can be used by the Holy Spirit to strengthen indigenous believers in Yemen and bring growth, in a way like also the first apostles were inspired by God… We know God is still at work, so please pray for fruit on the work done, that the Kingdom of God will be furthered and that lasting peace may come to the country.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.