Federal Parliamentary Republic
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
For more than 25 years, Somalia has been a safe haven for Islamic militants who constantly target Christians both in Somalia and in neighboring countries. Groups like al-Shabab operate with seemingly little pushback and control large parts of Somali territory. The small number of believers in Somalia are largely Christians who have converted from Islam. Christians are viewed as high-value targets by al-Shabab. Even when Christian converts are not targeted by Islamic extremists, they are intensely pressured by their family. Any conversion from Islam is seen as a betrayal to family and community, so just suspicion of conversion can lead to harassment, intimidation and even murder. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, al-Shabab continued to be active in 2021—a reminder that life for Christians in Somalia is never safe.
“The first time in court, they made us sign our death certificates … They told us, ‘You have to deny Jesus right now,’ and we said, ‘No, we will not deny the Lord, but we will rather sign for our death.’”
Despite a slight decrease in violent attacks against Christians, persecution remains extreme in Somalia. No place is safe (even the home) for a Christian in Somalia, and pressure in every area of life is intense and unending.
While no part of Somalia is safe, the areas under control of al-Shabab are the most dangerous for Christians. But all Christians who have converted from Islam are in grave danger in Somalia—from their family, their community and society at large.
Open Doors strengthens the church in Somalia through local partners; our work has been primarily about finding the few pockets of severely persecuted Christians and supporting them in whatever way possible. Open Doors also raises prayer and advocacy for Christians in Somalia.