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Somalia

_images_files/content/article_files/Lent_Prayer/2013/4X3/somalia_4X3.jpg
A street view in Somalia
COSV / CC BY-SA 3.0

Hassan Hurshe (28), a Somali convert from Islam to Christianity, was publicly shot in the head in the town of Jilib in June 2013 by militants from the Islamist group al-Shabaab. It is thought that the group had been monitoring him since his return to Somalia in 2010. His parents, widow and young son fled the area after his murder.

Hassan’s killing is only one of numerous recent anti-Christian attacks carried out by al-Shabaab in Somalia. The group has declared its intention “to get rid of the barbaric and non-Islamic culture in the country” and that converts from Islam would be “under the sword of the holy warriors”. Kidnapping, sexual abuse, torture and murder are among the brutal punishments meted out on the small number of Christian converts. Dozens of Christians have been executed since 2008, when the group seized control of central and southern Somalia. The chaotic nature of the country means that reports of murders that reach us may not reflect the actual number of such incidents.

Al-Shabaab, which has claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda since 2007, is fighting to establish a radical Islamic state in East Africa. Despite having been driven out of most major population centres, it continues to control some rural areas in the centre and south of the country, where it strictly implements sharia law using stonings, amputations and floggings.

Somalia has been without an effective government for many years. The introduction of a provisional constitution and the election of a new parliament and president are hopeful signs, but much of the country is still outside their control. The provisional constitution elevates sharia and greatly restricts religious freedom. It says, “No law which is not compliant with the general principles and objectives of sharia can be enacted” and, “No religion other than Islam can be propagated in the country.” Even in government-held areas Christian converts have to meet secretly or follow Jesus alone. Christianity is often associated with the oppression of the country by European colonial rulers.

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    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 20 hours ago

    • Kidnapping for ransom has been a persistent problem for the Christian community in Egypt amid the political upheaval and instability following the “Arab Spring” revolution of 2011. On 14 June, Wadie Ramses, a well-known surgeon, was seized in El-Arish. The assailants opened fire on his vehicle and took him away wounded. They later demanded a ransom of ten million Egyptian Pounds (£800,000; US$1.4 million) for his release. Two days later, Christian merchant Gemal Shenouda was captured near his home in the same city. It is thought that Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, who have been behind escalating violence in the Sinai region, are responsible for the kidnappings. Pray for the safe return of our two Christian brothers and that they and their families will know the Lord’s peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 18 June, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced to five years in prison and given a fi ne of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” in connection with reports he produced relating to anti-Christian violence in Minya for a Christian TV channel. His lawyer believes that Bishoy has been targeted because of his conversion from Islam. The Christian gained notoriety in Egypt in 2007 as the first person to try to change his religion on his ID card, a case that is still unresolved owing to the political tumult in the country over the last three years. Pray that the Lord will be Bishoy’s strength and shield (Psalm 28:7), and that he will soon be released. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • “Saudi Arabia remains unique in the extent to which it restricts the public expression of any religion other than Islam.” In its annual report for 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom highlighted the extraordinary restrictions faced by Christians and other non-Muslims in one of the most rigid and hardline Islamic states in the world. No churches exist in Saudi Arabia because of an Islamic tradition that Muhammad said there should be only one religion in the Arabian peninsula. Pray for peace and perseverance for the small number of Saudi converts and the many expatriate Christians practising their faith in this repressive context, and ask that the authorities will yield to international pressure to introduce greater religious freedom. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    • On 23 June, Vahid Hakkani, a Christian convert in prison in Iran, resumed a hunger strike in protest against the refusal of a court to grant him and two other Christians conditional release. Vahid had broken his previous strike in May after another of his fellow-detainees was set free. The prison authorities have reportedly confiscated his personal belongings from his cell and are denying him the right to make phone calls; they have also separated the Christian prisoners from one another. Even before his first hunger strike, Vahid had been suffering from a digestive problem and internal bleeding. Pray that his health may not fail altogether and that his action will secure justice and freedom for him and his friends (Psalm 69:33). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

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