World watch ranking: 3
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President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed

Christian Population

Persecution Type
  • Clan oppression
  • Ethno-religious hostility
  • Islamic oppression
  • Organized corruption and crime

How many Christians are there in Somalia?

From a population of over 16 million, it’s estimated that there are only a few hundred Christians in Somalia. It’s very hard to know, given the secrecy they are forced into. 

What does persecution look like in Somalia?

It is impossible to publicly admit your Christian faith in Somalia, and “church life” is non-existent. Islam is considered a crucial part of Somali identity, and if any Somali is suspected of having converted to Christianity, they are in great danger. Members of their family, clan or community will harass, intimidate or even kill them. Women may be raped and forcibly married.

Christians are also in danger from al-Shabab, a violent group that advocates Shariah (Islamic law) as the basis for regulating all aspects of life. Christians from a Muslim background are considered a “high-value target” by al-Shabab, who have often executed believers on the spot, when discovered.

If a Christian man is killed or abducted, his whole family suffers, as the man will be the breadwinner. The remaining family are often left unprotected and seen as a stain on the community.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

All Christians from a Muslim background are in great danger in Somalia – and everybody is considered to be from a Muslim background. Those living in areas under the control of al-Shabab are particularly vulnerable.

Meet 'Momina'

“Momina” (name changed), 38, encountered Jesus in her dreams and became a Christian. Her husband abandoned her and her family was ordered not to support her.

“We were all dead, but Jesus came to save us and give us a new life… I leave my life in His hands. I am so excited that God is with me wherever I am; I am also glad the Lord listens to my prayers.”


What has changed compared to last year?

Somalia remains number three on the World Watch List, as one of the countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. The pressure on Christians remains at an extreme level. Christians in the country risk being killed by Islamic militants, and clan leaders, elders and family members monitor the movements of any suspected Christian convert.

In recent years, the situation appears to have got even worse. Islamic militants have intensified their hunt for Christians, particularly any in a position of leadership.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Somalia?

Open Doors supports Somali believers across the Horn of Africa by focusing on discipleship support, literature distribution and community development, as well as broadcasting radio programs into the country.

How can you pray for Somalia?

  • Pray for the families of those who have been murdered for their faith, that they would receive the comfort of their Heavenly Father and be healed from bitterness.
  • Pray for a strong church to grow among Somali people, relying on Jesus and with a hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God.
  • Pray for those who are responsible for the killings of Christians to be convicted with the fear of the Lord. 
a prayer for Somalia

Lord, thank You that You are standing by Somali Christians – that however small they are in number, they are loved and cherished by the Almighty. Please encourage those who despair, and bring joy in the face of extraordinary hardship. We also ask that You would convict those who persecute Christians, as You did with the apostle Paul, and show them the truth of the gospel.