The hostility of the Arab Islamic world to Muslims who convert to Christianity is so great that it creates severe tactical problems for missionaries. Even when the governments in power do not take action against a convert, individual citizens may do so as an implementation of the idea that all Muslims have an obligation to help enforce Islamic law. Typically, such laws include prohibitions of apostasy and blasphemy, and wherever Islam has been deeply formative in the political order, there is little distinction between politics and religion. Public laws are often extensions of religious concepts.

This is not so much the case in some regions of Africa, where groups of families and friends may include Muslims and Christians, even those who have converted from one religion to the other. But in Arab lands, national governments frequently must “recognize” a change in religious status, and while a change from Christianity to Islam will be recognized, there may be a prolonged or even permanent refusal to recognize a change from Islam to Christianity. Without this recognition, the convert may be breaking the law by attending Christian religious services, or his children may not be able to avoid Islamic religious instruction in school.

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