Arab, Iraqi in Finland

Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Arab, Iraqi
Country: Finland
10/40 Window: No
Population: 16,000
World Population: 21,994,000
Primary Language: Arabic, Mesopotamian
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 3.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.20 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Arab, Levant
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Refugees in Finland are disproportionately from Iraq. There is a small but growing Iraqi Arab population in Finland. Iraqis began to flee to Europe in the 1990s with the first Gulf War. For the next 20 years, that number increased greatly as their country destabilized and new governments began to marginalize those from other religious communities. Others have had to flee because of persecution from rival clans. Most Iraqis in Finland are either living in Helsinki or Turku. Some live further north in Tornio, just inside the Arctic Circle and right on the border with Sweden.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Iraqi Arabs in Finland are there as refugees. Finland is much more likely to accept refugees who come to escape oppressive governments, but many Iraqis have to escape clan violence. Most Iraqis who manage to settle in Europe have money and education. Yet, without the right language skills, it is hard for many to find challenging and well-paid work. There are also a strong anti-immigration efforts in Finland. Some of this is because of a fear of Muslims, but it's also sometimes because Iraqis have a disproportionate rate of being arrested for rape and sexual assault. Though they are rare, there have also been well known situations where Iraqi Arab men have been guilty of attempted "honor" killings of female relatives who defy their norms, and spousal abuse.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Islam has greatly influenced the lives of Iraqi Arabs. Most are either Sunni or Shia Muslim, the latter being unusual for Arabs. The Shias are allied with their religious counterparts over the border in Iran. They are in the category of the "Twelvers," meaning they follow 12 imams (teachers), the 12th being Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, whom they believe will someday return to bring peace and justice to the world. Shia Muslims also stress victimhood and martyrdom, and they commemorate events where their leaders were killed. The latter might be a possible bridge to the death of Christ on the cross. There are also some traditional Christians among the Iraqi Arabs in Finland.

What Are Their Needs?

Iraqi Arabs in Finland need job training and help getting their visas in order. Believers who know how to deal with government agencies, and landlords can help them get settled. Since they are in a country with freedom of religion, this is an excellent time for someone to take the gospel to these Muslims.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to direct Iraqi Arabs in his ways as they settle in Finland. Pray for Iraqi Arabs in Finland to know God as their provider and lean on him. Pray for a movement to Christ that cannot be stopped. Pray for Iraqi Arab communities to become open to the influence of Jesus Christ in their lives.

Text Source:   Joshua Project