02/14/2024 Middle East (International Christian Concern) – For those who have decided to believe and follow Christ from Muslim backgrounds, persecution comes in many layers and forms – even in love and marriage issues.  

In some areas of the Middle East and North Africa, spouses are often selected based on their parent’s or tribal wishes and connections and guided by more conservative traditions. In other parts of the region, especially larger cities, young people are afforded more individual choices of whom they can marry. Religious identification plays a vital role in these traditions, and religious and even legal restrictions are in place that restrict who can marry whom. Even a rumored love affair between Muslims and Christians in some regions, such as rural Egypt, can set off local riots and violence.  

In many regions, Muslims cannot change their religious designation on their ID card. This religious identity is with them for life, passed down through the religious identity of the father, even if they make a choice to leave Islam and become a Christian. In Islam, a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man. Thus, for a Muslim background Christian woman, her options for marriage are to be married to a Muslim man and have her children raised as Muslims. She risks her faith being discovered by her husband and perhaps experiencing other forms of violence. Her other option is to marry a fellow Muslim background Christian man and to have a “Christian” family while all being officially recognized as Muslims – parents and children alike.  

International Christian Concern continues to advocate for greater religious freedom for Christians from Muslim backgrounds. Their religious freedoms must include the right to marry, love, and raise a family that matches their values and faith and not be restricted by religious identity laws and restrictions. 

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