Mere Suspicion of Being a Christian Could Lead to Quick Public Beheading Without Trial in Somalia

Members of the al Shabaab militant group parade in the Somali capital Mogadishu on March 5, 2011.Reuters

In this 99.5 percent Sunni Muslim-majority African country, mere suspicion that one has converted to Christianity could lead to instant death by way of public beheading without trial.

This is Somalia, where Christian persecution is so extreme that "it could scarcely get any worse," The Christian Post reported, citing the charity group Aid to the Church in Need as source.

Somalia is now ranked number 2 in the World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution, just behind perennial "top-notcher" North Korea.

Speaking to The Christian Post, Yonas Dembele, International Law analyst for the World Watch Research Unit at Open Doors International, said Somalia is actually worse than North Korea. "Unlike in North Korea, on their [Christian converts'] discovery they would not last a day in a trial or ever get the chance to be sentenced to a labor camp," Dembele said.

He said for Christians to survive in Somalia, they "must pretend not to be Christians."

In October 2016, Somalia became an even more dangerous country for Christians when the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group gained its first foothold in the Horn of Africa country, according to Mission Network News.

Aside from ISIS, another Islamist extremist group, the al-Shabaab, has also taken over parts of Somalia.

Yet despite the overwhelming danger, "we do hear these many stories of Muslims having visions and dreams of Jesus," according to Greg Musselman of the Voice of the Martyrs.

Somalia began to disintegrate as a nation following the ousting of President Siad Barre in 1991. In its Africa report, Aid to the Church in Need describes Somalia as a "humanitarian disaster with the worst health indicators in the world" with more than one of every 10 children dying in childbirth, and a quarter of those who do survive dying before the age of 5.

Islamist extremist factions rule much of the country even though there is supposed to be a transitional government backed by the Ethiopian armed forces, according to the Aid to the Church in Need report.

The report said the country used to be the home of about 2,000 Catholics, but they were forced to flee when the militants destroyed the Cathedral in Mogadishu in 2008.