Somali Christians Lose Family, Fingers In Desperate Attempt to Flee Islamic Extremists

A Catholic faithful prays inside a church during Mass in the northern Kenyan town of Garissa, where two Somali Christian pastors were murdered in 2013. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
A Catholic faithful prays inside a church during Mass in the northern Kenyan town of Garissa, where two Somali Christian pastors were murdered in 2013. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)
Desperate to avoid arrest in Somaliland for leaving Islam, one Christian fled to Ethiopia, while another in Somalia escaped kidnappers after losing fingers for his faith.

Sharif (full name withheld for security reasons) said he had to leave his wife and four children behind in order to sneak out of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia.
After the 31-year-old Sharif put his faith in Christ in May 2014 in Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, a year later rumors began circulating that he had left Islam, he said.
“My association with a visiting white missionary landed me in trouble,” he told Morning Star News by phone from an undisclosed town in Ethiopia. “I feel sad because I cannot see my family, because if I return back to Somaliland, then the government will arrest me.”
Sharif said he was thankful to God for enabling him to miraculously cross the border.
His children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 1, have relocated to an undisclosed town in Somaliland with their mother.
“I am not sure what will happen to my wife and four children,” he said. “I am praying that God will provide for their basic needs. Pray for me that one day I will see them.”
Non-Somalis may practice any faith in Somaliland, but conversion from Islam is forbidden for natives, said a church leader in Hargeisa. The constitution of Somaliland, which stipulates that all laws must comply with the general principles of sharia (Islamic law), prohibits conversion from Islam, according to the U.S. State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report (2013).
The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The constitution of Somaliland enshrines Islam as the state religion and forbids the propagation of any faith other than Islam.
A church leader in Somaliland who requested anonymity requested prayer for God to provide for the many converts to Christianity in Somalia who are suffering persecution for their faith.
Another former Muslim recently escaped from insurgents of the Islamic extremist Al Shabaab in Baidoa, Somalia. After kidnapping the Christian, whose name is withheld, on May 15, the Islamic extremists chopped off four fingers on his right hand while interrogating him about his faith, he told Morning Star News by phone from an undisclosed town in Somalia.
“Please pray for me, because my hand is not yet healed,” he said.
Al Shabaab, the Somali cell of Al Qaeda, has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians as it fights for control of the country against the government and forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
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