By BosNewsLife Africa Service
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Somalia faced a tense day Tuesday, July 21, after Al Shabaab Islamist rebels shot and killed Mohammed Sheikh Abdiraman because he converted from Islam to Christianity, witnesses said.
Compass News Direct, a well informed Christian news agency, quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the Islamic extremists appeared to have been hunting the convert, the latest in a series of reported killings of Christians this month.
The agency quoted unidentified as as saying that Abdiraman was the leader of an underground “cell group” of Christians in Somalia.
“We are very sad about this incident, and we also are not safe,” one eyewitness said by telephone. “Pray for us.”
The sources were too distraught to share more details about Abdiraman’s death, Compass Direct News reported. Another eyewitness who requested anonymity said Abdiraman had been a Christian for 15 years. He is survived by two children, ages 15 and 10. His wife died three years ago due to illness.
Intent on “cleansing” Somalia of all Christians, al Shabaab militia are monitoring converts from Islam especially where Christian workers had provided medical aid, such as Johar, Jamame, Kismayo and Beledweyne, sources said. Mahadday Weyne, 22 kilometers (14 miles) north of Johar, is the site of a former Christian-run hospital.
BosNewsLife was not immediately able to confirm the report independently, but Open Doors, a respected Christian rights and aid group, has also warned of growing persecution of former Muslims around the world, including in countries such as Somalia. Worldwide some 100 million Christians, many of them former Muslims, are believed to face severe persecution.
Al Shabaab rebels mounted an armed effort to topple President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s Western-backed Transitional Federal Government with the intention of imposing sharia (Islamic law), Christians said. The group is reportedly already enforcing sharia in large parts of southern Somalia. Al-Shabaab, also transliterated as al-Shabab, has denied American assessments that it is linked to the al- Qaeda terror network.
The militants earlier beheaded seven Christians on July 10, and refugees from Somalia tell of other attacks, Christians said. One refugee last year recounted an attack in Lower Juba, Somalia. Binti Ali Bilal, the 40-year-old mother of 10 children, was fetching firewood with her 23-year-old daughter, Asha Ibrahim Abdalla in April 2008 in an area called Yontoy when al Shabaab members and Muslim neighbors approached them. Yontoy is 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Kismayo.
For some time the local community had suspected that she and her family were Christians, Bilal told Compass. The group asked the women if they were Christians, and when they said they were, the group began beating her and her daughter, who was six months pregnant, Bilal said.
After raping them and holding them captive for five days, the Muslim extremists left them for dead, she said, and her husband found them. The baby born to her daughter, she told Compass, suffers from diseases related to the prenatal trauma.
News reports said that al Shabaab militants beheaded seven people in Baidoa that day for being Christians and “spies.”