A growing number of Muslims are turning to Christianity in the Sunni Islamic state of Saudi Arabia, a Christian non-profit organization said.
Open Doors, a non-profit organization that works for persecuted Christians in 60 countries for more than 60 years, has ranked Saudi Arabia as 14th in its list of countries with highest incidences of Christian persecution.
On the other hand, the organization also reports that there is an increasing number of citizens converting from Islam to Christianity “along with their boldness in sharing their new faith.” Open Doors describes the country’s population as largely young, majority of which is under thirty, and growing with social discontent.
In Saudi Arabia’s 30 million population, Open Doors records 1.2 million Christians in an environment where religious persecution is categorized as “severe” brought about by Islamic extremism.
A study published early in the year, as reported by Christian Today, revealed that from a documented less than 0.1 percent of Christians in 1910, the population in the Islamic state is now up to 4.4 percent.
Aside from documenting cases of Christian persecution in the country, Open Doors also supports the Christian faith among its converts by online programs such as Bible and Gospel Development. The online support is instrumental to the converts who are restricted to become secret believers due to the state’s rampant and severe persecution.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published a report stating that Saudi Arabia “remains uniquely repressive in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.”
“It continues to prosecute, imprison, and flog individuals for dissent, apostasy, blasphemy, and sorcery,” read a statement in the report.
USCIRF also disclosed that the country uses a 2014 law, where blasphemy and atheism are considered acts of terrorism, against human rights activists. Authorities are also considered abusive against dissidents of its rival Shi’a citizens.
The findings prompted USCIRF to recommend the Islamic state to be designated as “a country of particular concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
USCIRF also noted that the country was already designated as CPC in 2004 and in July 2014.
“However, since 2006, an indefinite waiver has been in place on taking action otherwise mandated by law as a result of the CPC designation,” the report said.