Barnabas Fund, 15 February 2021
Prosecutors in Muslim-majority Somaliland were granted extra time on 10 February to detain in custody a Christian couple and their new-born baby and two other Christian women on suspicion of “spreading Christianity”.
Somaliland’s small Christian community is feeling “very vulnerable” following the arrests of five Christians by police in the capital Hargeisa
On 21 January, police from the capital Hargeisa arrested and detained in custody Mohamed and Hamdi with their baby, as well as Aster, an Ethiopian woman.
Their lawyer said that on his initial visit they all appeared in good health and were being well treated. However, he has since been denied access, despite his verbal complaint and subsequent assurances from the public prosecutor’s office.
Many believers are reported to have fled abroad after the arrest in September 2020 of a Christian couple detained for being “apostates and evangelists spreading Christianity”. The couple, who have three children, were unexpectedly released and deported two months later after European government representatives raised the case with the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Islam is the official religion of Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Its constitution states that individuals have the right to freedom of belief. However, the constitution also prohibits Muslims from converting to another religion.