Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Monday 02 April 2012
Lent Prayer - Tunisia
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Tunisia, Africa
It was in Tunisia that the so-called “Arab Spring” was launched in January 2011, when the authoritarian President Ben Ali was ousted by violent protests. As the transitional government promised democratic reforms, hopes were raised of real freedom for the country’s people, including its tiny and vulnerable Christian minority.
But subsequent developments in Tunisia have dashed these hopes and may foreshadow even greater trials for the churches than they experienced under Ben Ali. A few Christians who sought to take advantage of the revolution to share their faith were forced to flee the country or move to a safer location after receiving threats from Islamists. There were reports of an increasingly public imposition of Islam, including condemnations for apostasy. In September a group of Muslims attempted to turn a Christian church building in Kef into a mosque.
Then in October the main Islamist party, Ennahda, emerged from the first elections since the revolution as the largest party in the national constituent assembly. Outlawed under Ben Ali on suspicion of planning an Islamist takeover, Ennahda will now have a dominant role in shaping the new Tunisia. Its opponents are concerned that it may not respect the country’s secular and progressive traditions.
Christians in Tunisia are widely scattered. In a population that is more than 99% Muslim, there are only a few hundred indigenous believers, and only about a third of these can meet with each other for worship. The rest are scattered, and many are secret believers, as they face the usual problems of harassment and discrimination endured by converts from Islam in Muslim-majority contexts. If the Tunisian government becomes more definitely Islamic, their freedom and safety is likely to be jeopardised even further.
Barnabas Fund projects include:
- Practical help for needy Tunisian believers (Ref. 53-1026)
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2012” -.