World Watch Ranking: 20

What does persecution look like in Mauritania?

Mauritania does not allow freedom of religion; it is illegal to leave Islam and follow another faith. Those who become Christians from a Muslim background face very severe pressure from their communities. They are perceived as bringing shame on the family and are likely to be shunned. In many cases they are expelled from their homes, or physically abused. If they make their faith public, Christians can be accused of apostasy in a religious court, with severe consequences, or charged by the authorities with terrorism or cyber-crime offences. Christians have been detained and prosecuted for 'undermining national security by insulting Islam and threatening Mauritania’s sacred principles'.

It is very difficult for Christians to meet or worship together, and almost impossible for believers who have converted from Islam. Even foreign nationals (such as aid workers or migrants) holding Christian meetings could be seen as evangelising to local Muslims – for which they can be prosecuted.

Violent Islamic extremist groups, including a branch of al-Qaeda, are active in the eastern border regions of the country, posing a danger to any Christians discovered there.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

All believers from a Muslim background face extreme pressures from their families and communities.

Christians living near the eastern border are potentially in danger from violent Islamic extremist groups there.

What has changed this year?

Christians continue to face extremely high pressure in almost all spheres of life, mainly due to the very severe pressure converts from Islam to Christianity face in the country. In the past year, this has slightly worsened.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Mauritania?

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

How can you pray for Mauritania?

  • Please pray that the government of Mauritania would be open to religious freedom
  • Pray that the families of new believers would have open hearts and minds, instead of rejecting the believer.
  • Pray for Open Doors partners and other Christians working to support secret believers and those who've lost everything for Jesus.
a Prayer for Mauritania

Lord Jesus, we lift to You our persecuted church family in Mauritania. We pray for a huge change of heart in government that brings religious freedom to this country. Let every Mauritanian Christian discover others around them who share their faith and be encouraged. Please help Open Doors partners find those who have been rejected by their families or believe secretly at home; help them provide love and support in safety. Amen.

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Persecution Level

Very High

Persecution Type
  • Islamic oppression
  • Clan oppression
  • Ethno-religious hostility
  • Dictatorial paranoia
  • Organized corruption and crime

Population of Christians
11,000 (0.2%)

Main Religion

Presidential Republic

President Mohamed Cheikh el Ghazouani