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No Country Is Safe: Life as a Somali Christian

Orthodox Christianity originally came to regions of modern-day in the second and third centuries. Today, Somalia is under the jurisdiction of the Holy Archdiocese of Aksum of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Somalia, see here.

“No Country Is Safe: Life as a Somali Christian,” International Christian Concern, February 24, 2024:

Often cited as the world’s best example of a “failed state,” Somalia has for several decades suffered from lawlessness and deprivation. Much of the country is extremely dangerous for anyone, and so it’s no surprise that members of its tiny Christian minority lead lives of constant fear.  

There are also thousands of Somali Christians outside Somalia. Despite having escaped their troubled homeland, they still often face isolation and danger, largely due to members of the Somali expat community who revile them for abandoning Islam.  

Few countries other than North Korea are more inhospitable toward Christianity than Somalia, an East African nation of about 16 million, almost all of whom are Muslim.  

The U.S. Department of State reports that only 1,000 Christians live in Somalia. However, some sources — such as the Somali Bible Society — give a drastically higher number. 

Ali (real name withheld for safety reasons), a Somali Christian in Uganda, agrees with the U.S. Department of State estimate. He adds, though, that there are “more than 5,000 Somali Christians outside of Somalia.” Ali says the number is growing slowly “because it’s not easy to preach the gospel to Somalis.”  

Interestingly, though, at least one Christian organization has Somalia ranked far above the world average in terms of its evangelical annual growth rate 

It’s so difficult to be a Somali Christian that many might wonder why they would choose to convert. 

Naomi (a pseudonym), a Somali Christian who helps produce Somali Christian TV, says that a significant portion of Somali Christian converts became so after growing disillusioned by the widespread killing of Muslims by other Muslims in Somalia.  

Ali says that evangelizing through social media has also led a considerable number of Somalis to convert to Christianity.  

It’s quite a decision to make: If discovered, everyone you know will likely disown you — or worse.  

Ali says that, throughout most of Somalia, any Somali Christian who publicly “announces themselves will be killed.” 

Just having a piece of ostensibly Christian literature could be enough to warrant lethal violence.  

Though some of the attacks on Somali Christians are the work of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab, such violence is by no means relegated to the terrorist fringe. Rather, it reflects the mainstream Somali viewpoint, which predominates among those in power as well as among the impoverished masses comprising much of the bereft countryside.  

“Outwardly, all Somali Muslims must support attacks on Somali Christians because otherwise they may not be seen as Muslim,” says Naomi. “Some, inwardly, may disagree but, due to the nature of the Somali community, they must appear to the others as though they condemn Somali Christians.” 

If a Somali Muslim shows any sign of sympathy to the Somali Christians, then “somebody would suspect that they are an infidel … and they themselves could be in danger of being persecuted or killed,” says Naomi….

Even if they worship exclusively within their own homes, Somali Christians must face the grim truth that most of their people despise them.  

And Ali, the Somali Christian in Uganda, says that, whether they are inside the homeland or half a world away, “It’s always dangerous for Somali Christians to stay around Somali Muslims.”                    

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