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Wed 29 Feb 2012 11:56 AM

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Number of Kuwaiti Christians drops 25%

Migration and changes to naturalisation laws cited as possible reasons

Number of Kuwaiti Christians drops 25%
There are currently nearly 500,000 Christians living in the Gulf state (image for illustrative purposes only) (AFP/Getty Images)

The number of Kuwaiti Christians has dropped by 25 percent in the last five years, the Kuwait Times has reported.

Christians with Kuwaiti nationality fell from 200 in 2007 to just 50 this year according to the daily, which quoted unofficial statistics given by the pastor of the National Evangelical Church, Emmanuel Gharib.

Director of the cultural communication center at the International Islamic Charitable Organization, Abdul-Aziz Al-Duaij, told the paper that the drop may have resulted from “migration for reasons that might include choosing a lifestyle more oriented towards secularism”.

Pastor Gharib cited changes to Kuwait’s naturalisation laws in 1981, which said a person must be an Arab Muslim in order to gain citizenship.

There are currently nearly 500,000 Christians living in the Gulf state, most of which are of Turkish, Iraqi or Palestinian descent.

The country continues to battle with a lack of Christian churches, with just eight holy buildings for Christians to worship in.

Earlier this month, media reports said a Kuwaiti parliamentarian would submit a draft law banning the construction of churches in the state, due to the “excessive number of churches” compared to the country’s Christian minority.