Somalians who are suspected to have converted to Christianity face rushed public beheadings without proper trial, while the Christians in the country experience extreme persecution at the hands of Islamic jihadists, according to an International Law analyst for Open Doors International's World Watch Research Unit.
Based on Open Doors' 2017 World Watch List of the worst Christian persecutors, Somalia ranks second with its persecution levels almost equal to that of North Korea. Open Doors UK & Ireland CEO Lisa Pearce said persecution driven by religious nationalism is often condoned and encouraged by some governments, the Catholic News Agency reports.
In an interview with The Christian Post, International Law analyst Yonas Dembele said killing Christian converts in Somalia has become very common. He implied that the converts in North Korea are better off, even though the latter is the world's top Christian persecutor.
"Converts to Christianity in the country have been facing massive problems and their killing is very common. Unlike in North Korea, on their discovery they would not last a day in a trial or ever get the chance to be sentenced to a labor camp," Dembele told the Post. "Instead, the mere suspicion leads to a rushed public beheading. Christians cannot raise their children according to their faith and would face severe problems if they attempted to celebrate Christian holidays. In a nutshell, to survive in the country Christians must pretend not to be Christians."
To make matters worse, the Christians in the Islamic-majority country cannot rely on the government to protect them. Although Somalia's draft Constitution guarantees religious freedom for citizens, Islam is still the country's official religion.
In 2015, the country's ministry of religion director, Sheikh Mohamed Kheyrow, issued a warning against the celebration of Christmas, saying the occasion is only for Christians. Dembele said this is an example of the government trying to appease the Islamist extremists by implementing strict prohibitions on Christians.
Dembele relayed the story of a Christian convert who fled Somalia to escape persecution from his own family. However, he is still having a difficult time adjusting to his new environment since non-Somali Christians view him as a person who might attack them.
Meanwhile, Dembele acknowledged the international community's efforts to put a stop to the conflict in Somalia. However, he said the country lacks resources, unlike the other nations in the Middle East, and this situation causes the international community to overlook Somalia.
In light of the situation, Dembele called on Christians to support Open Doors USA and other NGOs campaigning against Christian persecution. He also urged believers to speak with their government representatives about the issue of religious liberty.