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Christian martyred by al-Shabaab militan...

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Christian martyred by al-Shabaab militants in Somalia

Country/Region: Somalia, Africa, Middle East and North Africa

The decapitated body of a Christian man killed by Islamic militants has been found in south-western Somalia.

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Juma Nuradin Kamil, whose head was severed and put on his chest, was killed by the terrorist group al-Shabaab. His body was found in the Bakool region on 2 September. In all versions of sharia law, death is the penalty prescribed for adult male apostates from Islam.

Many Somali Christians have been martyred by Islamic militants in recent years. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda that controls most of southern Somalia, wages war against “enemies of Islam”. Last year a spokesman for the group said:

We aim to get rid of the barbaric and non-Islamic culture in the country.

It is fighting to overthrow the Transitional Federal Government, which was established in 2004 but controls only a small part of the country. Neighbouring Christian-majority Ethiopia supports the government, and Christians in Somalia are labeled by al-Shabaab as agents of Ethiopian intelligence agencies.

Al-Shabaab imposes an extremely strict version of sharia in the southern parts of the country under its control. And conditions are not much better for Christians elsewhere. President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, who heads the internationally recognised government, has also adopted sharia, including the death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam).

Somalia is almost 100 per cent Muslim, and the small number of Christians, all converts from Islam, are extremely vulnerable. There are no church buildings in the country; Christians meet “underground” to worship.

The country is currently in the grip of severe drought and famine, and al-Shabaab is restricting the supply of international aid to the starving population. The group briefly lifted its ban on aid agencies operating in the country, only to re-impose it. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been forced to flee in search of food, many crossing into neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia.

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