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RELIGION: Christianity in Islamic lands

Jim Bowman comments: "One way to test the tolerance of a Muslim society is the status of Christianity in it. Marga Jann contrasts Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In Saudi Arabia, there are no Christian churches. Kuwait has always been more liberal. It should be pointed out that Iraq has always been tolerant in this regard". Jim says: "There are several Christian organizations which rate the countries of the world in terms of religious/social oppression. Saudi Arabia has ranked number one for many years on these lists as the most religiously and socially oppressive country in the world.

Another interesting measurement are the countries that allow Christian broadcasts on local radio stations. Indonesia is completely open (not necessarily safe) for Christian broadcasts, including full station ownership. We (Far East Broadcasting International) operate four stations full time, and have broadcasts on another forty. Muslim countries that are under Asian influence are more tolerant than those under Middle East influence. Kazakhstan and some surrounding "Asian-stans" permit Christian broadcasting. Philippine and Indonesian Muslims are largely tolerant and most very open to Christianity. But within those countries the ethnic groups that come under Saudi influence (The Aceh of Sumatra for example) are hostile and murderous with regard to Christians. In the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf is not connected to any specific ethnic Muslim group and originally had connections to Saudi Arabia; most Filipino Muslims are neither militant nor intolerant.

Thousands of Filipino contract workers (Balik Bayan) are in Saudi Arabia as construction laborers, hotel workers, musicians and maids. Since most are Christian (both Catholic or Protestant), they bring back stories of horrific treatment. In addition to religious intolerance, the women suffer sexual and physical abuse with no legal recourse. Because of these conditions, our radio organization maintains a Tagalog broadcast on short wave specifically to encourage Filipinos in that environment, since that will be the only Christian broadcasts in Tagalog available to them.

On the Open Doors' Persecution Index (, considered the most reliable Christian analysis of persecution, the countries mentioned rate as follows:

Scale: less than a score of less than 10 points indicates basic religious freedom

#1 Saudi Arabia..81. 5
#2 Afghanistan .. 72.5
#33 Kuwait..42.5
#47 Iraq..32.5

The chart shows 88 countries above 9.9, so that gives an idea where these countries rank. While Iraq and Kuwait may be contrasted, but it's a bit like comparing the Mob with the Mafia".

My comment: I hope the standing of Afghanistan has improved.

Ronald Hilton - 9/16/02