Country profiles

source: Open Doors


Afghanistan is a tribal society, and loyalty to your family, clan and tribe are incredibly important. Islam is seen as part of Afghan identity, and leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal by families and communities. It is illegal for an Afghan person to leave Islam. Afghan Christians must keep their faith completely secret that is why it is almost impossible to know their exact number. Those who are discovered may be sent to a mental hospital – their families believe no sane person would leave Islam. They may also be beaten or even killed by family members, or members of Islamic extremist groups like the Taliban.


Nigeria is a nation split by a Christian-Muslim fault-line which runs across the middle of the country. In the 12 northern states ruled by Sharia (Islamic law), Christians simply do not receive the opportunities, provisions and protections afforded to Muslims. The main source of violence comes in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, where decades of climate change and creeping desertification, combined with rapid population growth, has lead to conflict between nomadic, predominantly Muslim Fulani cattle herders and indigenous, predominantly Christian farmers. An increase in the use of high powered weapons, and the murder of entire families in their homes has led many Christians to claim such attacks amount to a campaign of ethno-religious cleansing.


If you are planning a holidays to the Maldives, a paradise on earth for tourists, you should think about the Christians community hardly persecuted in the islands: Maldivian Christians must keep their faith completely secret and being found to own a Bible could result in a prison sentence. That’s why many Maldivian Christians have been forced to move abroad to escape persecution. Those Christians who live outside the capital sometimes meet in secret for worship, but these meetings are subject to police raids. Even tourists have reported getting into trouble for having a personal copy of the Bible since importing Christian literature into the country is strictly prohibited. The main source of persecution is the Islamic extremism since the government sees itself as the protector of Islam, and the judicial system increasingly reflects Sharia (Islamic law); the death penalty has been introduced as punishment for murder, even for children. Citizens of the Maldives who convert to Christianity lose their citizenship and risk torture.


10 million Christians live in Egypt, making up 10 per cent of Egypt’s population of 99.4 million. Egypt is a strongly Islamic nation. Just under 90 per cent of the population of Egypt are Sunni Muslims. President al-Sisi has called upon scholars at the university to fight radicalism and introduce reforms in Islamic teaching. However, in rural and impoverished areas in particular, radical imams and less tolerant brands of Islam are growing in prominence. The self-proclaimed Islamic State has vowed to wage war against Christians in Egypt. Egyptian Christians are often victims of social exclusion, and face constant discrimination in areas such as justice, education and basic social services. In rural areas, Christian women have been targeted for abduction and forced marriage. Believers from Muslim backgrounds face pressure from their families and communities – they may be beaten or expelled from their homes. There were dozens of deadly attacks on churches for the past years. And yet, even in the face of terrible violence, Christians in Egypt have shown incredible grace and forgiveness – Coptic Christians were even nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their refusal to retaliate.