OVERVIEW: Djibouti is mainland Africa’s third smallest nation. It is dominated by two majority Muslim groups, Afar and Somali, and is almost completely surrounded by Islamist countries. Despite this, Djibouti itself is not dominated by extremists. The capital city is home to several foreign naval bases, and many international aid groups operate out of the country. Even though Islam is the official state religion, the rights of Christians are generally respected, Bibles are legally available and there is no law preventing Muslims from converting. The nation seeks to protect its Muslim identity, and Christian organizations are not allowed to register officially.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Islam (Sunni) is the official state religion
PERSECUTOR: Muslim converts to Christ may experience government oppression, but most persecution comes from converts’ family or clan and the local Muslim community.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN DJIBOUTI:
The government tries to limit the spread of Christianity and the growth of evangelical churches by prohibiting public meetings and the construction of buildings for Christian activities. The only churches that are allowed to worship openly are French Protestant, Roman Catholic and Ethiopian Orthodox. Foreigners are granted religious freedom, but evangelism and discipleship of new believers are discouraged. Muslims who express an interest in Christ face the risk of persecution from family and friends, and those who convert are isolated, beaten and sometimes killed for abandoning Islam.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles are available, but owning one in some communities comes with the risk of government harassment or violence at the hands of Muslim family members and the Muslim community.
VOM WORK: VOM supports believers who are persecuted because of their faith.