SCORE91.43 REGIONAfrica PERSECUTION TYPEClan oppression RELIGIONIslam PERSECUTION LEVELExtreme POPULATION16,589,000 CHRISTIANHundreds GOVERNMENTFederal Parliamentary Republic LEADERPresident Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed PROFILE OF PERSECUTION Violence 8.5/16.7Church Life 16.36/16.7National Life 16.6/16.7Community Life 16.6/16.7Family Life 16.7/16.7Private Life 16.5/16.7 How the scoring worksDownload country dossier with in-depth research What does persecution look like in Somalia? 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. Meet “Fatuma,” a Somali Christian who lives in the Horn of Africa (not necessarily Somalia) and was arrested for her faith, along with her husband “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.’” What has changed this year? 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. Who is most vulnerable to persecution? 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. What does Open Doors do to help? 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. Christian population is Open Doors’ estimate.
Pray for Somalia
Continue to pray for peace in Somalia and success in establishing democracy even as the country deals with political upheaval, the constant threat of al-Shabab and the effects of decades of civil war.
Nearly 100% of Somalis are Muslim, and there is no room for Christians. Islam is the state religion—only Islam can be promoted and Shariah law is the highest authority. Pray that God would continue to build up His people in Somalia despite these realities.
Open Doors has been supporting Somali believers across the Horn of Africa since the 1990s. Our vision is to see followers of Christ grow to maturity in their faith and to have nurturing relationships amid persecution. Pray for God’s wisdom and protection over the work and that our efforts will bear much fruit.
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