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IRAQ: CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ SHARE THEIR STRUGGLES DURING RAMADAN

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As Ramadan comes to an end TODAY (8 April), Christians from Iraq share some of the ways that they have struggleD during thIS Islamic month of fasting and prayer. 

Ahmed’s* Muslim family knows that he attends church and reads the Bible, but he hasn’t yet told them he’s a Christian – and that makes life at home difficult for him during Ramadan.

“After becoming a believer in Jesus Christ, I don’t fast during Ramadan, and this is where I am pressured not to eat in front of them. When I eat, I am usually accused: ‘Why are you eating? Aren’t you fasting?’” 

Many Christians coming from a Muslim background, like Ahmed, feel forced to take part in all Ramadan rituals, because if their family finds out about them becoming Christians, they might kick them out of the home, disown them, or worse. 

And it’s not just at home, Ahmed explains. “When I am out with friends, I feel as if we are besieged by all the others around us. I’m pressured with not being able to eat, neither in my home nor outside in public places.” 

Food is one challenge; the other is Islamic prayer. “Why don’t you pray? Is there any problem with the prayer?” is a question he often gets. Ahmed usually responds with, “I can’t,” or “I’m busy, I have something to do.”  

Image: A city in northern Iraq

Christians more obvious during Ramadan  

For Christians living in Christian-majority communities in Iraq, Ramadan is not so much of a challenge. But those spaces are dwindling; the Christian population has reduced to around 200,000 from one million over the last decade due to war and persecution.  

While Muslims are fasting, Christians in predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods often face a lot of pressure and restrictions at school or work – even going out shopping or spending time with friends can be difficult. To avoid this pressure, Ahmed joins his friend from church and they eat together at his house. 

Threatened by the police 

In some neighbourhoods, it’s not just your friends or family who question you, but the police too. Ahmed shares about an incident he witnessed: “Some people went inside a shop, bought water and drank. The police took them to the police station and asked them to sign a pledge that they won’t break their fasting in public anymore – and, if they do, they will go to prison next time.” 

Ahmed has seen so many of these situations that he tries to avoid confrontation at all costs. “You should be very careful; find a place to drink or eat where no one is and no one can see, especially when you’re out. When people are around, even if you’re thirsty to death, don’t try to drink because something else will happen.” 

Thank you for praying for Christians during Ramadan – please continue to uphold believers in Iraq and across the Middle East in prayer. 

*Names changed for security reasons 

PRAY NOW...
1

For Ahmed and other Christians in the region - pray that God will protect them and minister through them to their Muslim friends and family

3

That the Iraqi church’s witness will draw more Muslims to Christ.

2

That Christians in Iraq will be able to meet together and find safe places to eat and drink during Ramadan

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