14

Iraq

Iraq

World Watch List Rank14
World Watch List Score78.11/100
Last year’s rank11
Persecution TypeIslamic oppression (Very strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Strong), Clan oppression (Strong), Organized corruption and crime (Strong), Christian denominational protectionism (Medium)
LeaderPresident Barham Salih
Population42,612,000
Christians166,000 (0.4%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds, World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021)
Main ReligionIslam
GovernmentFederal Parliamentary Republic
RegionMiddle East North Africa
Persecution LevelVery High Persecution

Iraq remains plagued by conflict, despite the recent territorial losses of the so-called Islamic State (IS), and this continues to gravely affect the country’s minority Christian population. In June 2020, Christian villages were bombed in Turkey’s largest operation in the area since 2015, forcing many Christians to flee. In May 2021, Christian villages were evacuated following Turkish bombing in the region. Christians were not protected by the local government.

Many Christians are also seriously affected by intolerance and persecution. This is perpetuated mostly by militant Islamic groups and non-Christian leaders. They also face discrimination from government authorities.

In central and southern Iraq, Christians often do not publicly display Christian symbols (such as crosses) as this can lead to harassment or discrimination at checkpoints, universities, workplaces and government buildings. Outspoken believers in the region have frequently become targets. Blasphemy laws can be used against Christians suspected of carrying out outreach among Muslims.

Christians from a Muslim background experience the most pressure from their families. They often keep their faith a secret, as they risk being threatened by family members, clan leaders and their local community. Converts risk losing their inheritance rights and the right or means to marry.

What changed this year?

Persecution levels in Iraq have largely remained the same. However, encouragingly, in the last year, there has been a substantial drop in reported incidents of violence.

Meanwhile, Iraqi politicians have passed a bill to make Christmas Day a national holiday, and a committee has been set up to enable Christians displaced by the IS insurgency to return to their homes (more than 80% have fled the country since 2003). However, many Christians are reluctant to return home, as they do not yet feel the environment is conducive for a safe and prosperous return.

How we help

Open Doors works through local partners to support the church in Iraq with biblical training, trauma care, Bible distribution, socio-economic development projects, relief aid, and help to rebuild houses and churches in northern Iraq.

PRAY FOR IRAQ

– Pray for peace and stability so that displaced Christians can return to their homes.

– Pray also that the new Iraqi government will protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities.

– For the protection of all believers.

RECENT STORIES FROM Iraq

Christmas without Dad

16th Nov 2021

Found in Featured Story

Although she spends Christmas without her dad, eleven-year-old Rafif is learning more about the saviour that her father died for. Christmas is a time of gathering…

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Returning to a broken place

14th Dec 2020

Found in Prayer News

Mathi hangs the cross up on his living room wall and steps back. He looks around the room, which is slowly looking more and more…

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“Christians belong here. Come back.”

24th Nov 2020

Found in Prayer News

After being displaced by the Islamic State in 2014, about 200 Iraqi Christian families are preparing to return to their homes in the city of…

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“I want peace for Christmas.”

17th Nov 2020

Found in Prayer News

The name “Emmanuel” means “God with us”. It is a beautiful promise of hope, especially for the children celebrating Christmas far away from their home.…

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Ten Prayer requests for Iraq

17th Oct 2020

Found in Prayer News

Christianity in Iraq is slowly disappearing. After years of violence and oppression, more and more believers are leaving Iraq. In the past 30 years, nearly…

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Prayer requests for the Middle East

17th Sep 2020

Found in Prayer News

Persecution continues for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. The following are a number of recent requests for prayer. Will you commit to…

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Hope for the Middle East

09th Sep 2020

Found in Podcast

Christianity has been disappearing from Iraq. Since 2003, the number of Christians has decreased by 87%. And if something isn’t done, Christianity could disappear entirely.…

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Hope for the victims of the Islamic State

28th Aug 2020

Found in Prayer News

Six years after militants calling themselves the Islamic State (IS) attacked Iraq’s Yazidi community and thousands of Christians in the Nineveh Plains, the victims are still waiting for justice, writes…

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Christianity in Iraq might disappear

04th Aug 2020

Found in Prayer News

A new report warns that “without immediate concerted action,” Christianity in Iraq might be close to eradication in four years’ time.   There are just…

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Iraq: Mosul’s streets still unsafe

02nd Jul 2020

Found in Prayer News

It’s been six years since the self-proclaimed Islamic State invaded the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The shelled-out homes and the rubble-lined streets are reminders of…

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Prayer for Iraq

02nd May 2020

Found in Prayer News

An ISIS Resurgence on the move Pray for Christians in IraqThe government of Iraq is dealing with a deadlier threat than Covid-19. The resurgence of…

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CHRISTMAS IN IRAQ

14th Dec 2018

Found in Prayer News

“We waited for three years,” says Merna, a young Christian woman in the Christmas season of 2017. “This year Christmas will be very different because…

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