World Watch List Rank23
World Watch List Score70.40/100
Last year’s rank20
Persecution TypeIslamic oppression (Very strong), Clan oppression (Strong), Ethno-religious hostility (Strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Medium), Organized corruption and crime (Medium)
LeaderPresident Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani
Christians10,900 (0.2%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds, World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2021)
Main ReligionIslam
GovernmentPresidential Republic
RegionMiddle East North Africa
Persecution LevelVery High Persecution

It is illegal in Mauritania to convert from Islam to another faith. The restrictive environment makes it impossible for Christians (especially converts from Islam) to openly meet and worship together. Any expression of faith by non-Mauritanian Christians (such as migrants or aid workers) also carries the risk of being seen as proselytizing Muslims and can lead to prosecution.

If a man converts to Christianity in Mauritania, he disgraces his extended family and loses his status in society. Women converts may be deprived of food, bullied and put under house arrest to keep them isolated.

What changed this year?

Little has changed in Mauritania from the standpoint of persecution. Any deviation from Islamic belief is strongly opposed nationally, in communities and through family pressure.

How we help

Open Doors works to support believers in North Africa through distributing Christian literature where possible, providing training and organizing socio-economic development projects and advocacy support.


Pray for the secret believers of Mauritania as they seek to worship God. Their conversion is illegal, and their danger is real.

Pray that God would provide creative ways for believers to find and support each other in their difficult walk of faith.