Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Mauritania - Open Doors UK & Ireland


World Watch ranking: 23
Map thumbnail
President Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani

How many Christians?
10,900 (0.2%)

Main threats
  • Islamic oppression

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How many Christians are there in Mauritania?

Christians are a tiny minority in Mauritania. In a population of around 4.9 million, just 10,900 are Christians. The majority are Muslim.

How are Christians persecuted in Mauritania?

It’s illegal in Mauritania to convert from Islam to another faith. Leaving Islam means bringing shame upon the family; any deviation from Islamic belief is strongly opposed nationally, in communities and through family pressure. The restrictive environment makes it impossible for Christians (especially converts from Islam) to openly meet and worship together. Any expression of faith by non-Mauritanian Christians, such as migrants or aid workers, also carries the risk of being seen as evangelising to Muslims and can lead to prosecution. 

What’s life like for Christians in Mauritania?

Pressure on converts from Islam to Christianity can be very high, particularly in rural areas where tribal and family ties are especially strict. Violent Islamic extremist groups, like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), are particularly active in the country's eastern border regions. 

Within Mauritania's tribal society, women are subject to the authority and financial support of their fathers and husbands. Women who convert to Christianity from Islam may be deprived of food, bullied and put under house arrest to keep them isolated.

If a man converts to Christianity in Mauritania, he brings shame on his extended family and loses his status in society. Also, he may be expelled from his family or physically abused. Conversion can also bring state persecution—including apostasy charges in a religious court. According to an Open Doors country expert, Christian men have been imprisoned for ‘undermining national security by insulting Islam and threatening Mauritania’s sacred principles’. Guilty verdicts can result in long prison sentences and high fines.  

Is it getting easier to be a Christian in Mauritania? 

Not really. While the country has fallen three places from last year’s list (number 20), very little has changed for Christians in Mauritania.

How can I help Christians in North Africa?

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Mauritania. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost. 

Open Doors works with local partners and churches in North Africa to provide leadership training, discipleship, livelihood support, pastoral care and prayer support.  

please pray

Lord Jesus, we lift to You our persecuted church family in Mauritania. Be their strong defender and mighty rock in the midst of violent persecution. Bring change to Mauritania that opens the doors to true religious freedom for all faiths. Help Mauritanian Christians discover and draw strength from others around them who share their faith. Amen.

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