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?
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-Shabaab 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-Shabaab. 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. Just suspicion of conversion can lead to harassment, intimidation and even murder. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, al-Shabaab continued to be active in 2021—a reminder that life for Christians in Somalia is never safe.
While no part of Somalia is safe, the areas under control of al-Shabaab 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.
Fatuma is a Somali Christian who lives in the Horn of Africa 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.’”Fatuma
What has changed compared to last year?
Despite a slight decrease in violent attacks against Christians, persecution remains extreme in Somalia. No place is safe for a Christian in Somalia, not even their own home, and pressure in every area of life is intense and unending.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Somalia?
Open Doors strengthens the church throughout the Horn of Africa 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.
How can you pray for Somalia?
- 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. Shariah law is the highest authority. Pray that God would continue to build up His people in Somalia despite these realities.
- 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.
Dear Lord, we come to You in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Somalia. You know they are constantly in danger because they follow You. We ask that they would feel Your Holy Spirit working in and through them, that they would be able to persevere and build Your Church. We pray especially for the secret Christians who feel alone—give them a supernatural sense of belonging to the worldwide Body of Christ. We pray all these things in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.