Somali convert attacked by Muslim relatives over his Christian faith

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A Somali Christian convert faced a brutal attack from his Muslim relatives, leading to severe injuries and separation from his wife and five children.

Mohammad Abdul, 40, was attacked on 5 May on the outskirts of Kismayo, a port city in Somalia's Lower Juba region, after converting to Christianity on 20 March, Morning Star News reports. According to an anonymous source, who withheld their name for security reasons, Abdul's relatives took his wife and children while he was recovering from the attack at a medical clinic.

"While Abdul was nursing injuries, the Muslims went back to his house and started destroying his house, and the wife and the five children went back with their people," said the source. "His wife has told him that the Muslims are looking for him, and that therefore he should not go back to them."

According to the Morning Star News service, Abdul sustained a "deep cut on his head" and a "fractured hand" in the assault. For his safety, he relocated to another city in Somalia.

Abdul converted to Christianity after a Somali pastor living abroad visited him with the gospel in March of this year. He began praying and studying the Bible with his family and the visiting Christian leader every evening.

Trouble began when Abdul's youngest child, five, mentioned these meetings to a neighbour, prompting Abdul's wife to suggest that the visiting pastor leave for his own safety.

After departing on 11 April, the pastor received updates from Abdul about threatening text messages he had received from his Muslim relatives. "We are now aware that every evening you are praying in the name of Issa [Jesus] as well as reading a corrupted book and not reading the Quran, the holy book sent to Muhammad from Allah," read one message. "If you do not stop this bad way of conducting religious activities, then you risk your life."

As his wife distanced herself from Christian prayers due to fear, Abdul continued to develop his faith in the gospel alone.

"Two of my children continued sharing with other children the kind of prayers I was making," Abdul explained. "On 2nd May, my younger son arrived crying that he was beaten by some boys after telling them about my reading the Bible and praying."

The situation escalated on 5 May around 7.30pm when Abdul's Muslim relatives stormed his house. "They were shouting and yelling that they were looking for my head," Abdul recounted. "The attackers forcibly entered the house and started questioning me for forsaking Islam and joining a bad religion. My wife and children looked shaken."

Abdul was struck with a sharp knife by one of his relatives. "The children began wailing and crying in a very loud voice, which confused the attackers," he said. "I then managed to escape through the rear door, bleeding, and slept at one of my relative's home about 5 kilometers away."

He has appealed for prayers for his family, with whom he remains in contact.

Somalia's constitution declares Islam as the state religion and bans the propagation of any other faith, mandating that laws align with sharia (Islamic law) principles. Apostasy is punishable by death according to mainstream Islamic jurisprudence. The extremist group Al Shabaab, affiliated with Al Qaeda, strictly enforces these laws and has killed numerous non-local people in northern Kenya since 2011.

Somalia ranks 2nd on Christian support group Open Doors' 2024 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most challenging to be a Christian.