The Christian population of Mauritania is very small, numbering perhaps just a few thousand-and many of these are expatriate believers. Believers in this Islamic Republic have been imprisoned, beaten for their faith, or endured ostracism by family or tribe.
According to the country’s constitution, only Muslims can be citizens of Mauritania. Apostasy from Islam is forbidden and those who do not recant within three days can face a death sentence and have their property confiscated, although no one has been officially executed for this offence to date. All non- governmental organisations which are linked to a religious body must be officially registered with the government and must not promote any religion that is not Islam. Government permission is required for all group meetings, including religious meetings by Muslims, even when these are held in private homes.
The tiny number of Mauritanian Christians must meet secretly; although expatriate believers can meet in churches, they are increasingly subject to persecution. In 20 an American Christian, Chris Leggett, was assassinated by Islamic terrorists when he resisted being taken hostage.
There have been protests against Christians by Muslims. At one public demonstration they accused Christians of burning the Quran and called on the government to punish them. They were not specific about which Christians they were accusing. Radical forms of Islam are spreading across North Africa. For some time Islamic terrorists have been active in Mauritania. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has exploited porous borders between North African countries and carried out attacks.
Pray for God’s blessing on Mauritanian Christians who have made the decision to leave the religion of their families and communities to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray also for their protection as they live under authorities which can place a death sentence on those who leave Islam, and pray that they will have courage to press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:14). Pray that laws against Christian activity will be eased so that Christians will be able to meet together freely for encouragement and teaching. Pray that the seeds of radical lslamism will wither before they take root.