House Church Members Flee Somaliland Amid Government Crackdown

Friday, January 25, 2008

By BosNewsLife News Center

HARGEISA, SOMALIA (BosNewsLife) -- Members of a house church in the breakaway Somali republic of Somaliland have fled to neighboring Ethiopia after hearing that the government wants to arrest them as part of a crackdown on evangelical Christians, an influential human rights group said Thursday, January 24.

US-based International Christian Concern (ICC) with Website said the pastor of the church in Somaliland's capital Hargeisa stayed behind. ICC said the pastor, who it wrongly identified as Mohammed "for security reasons", is being monitored around the clock by Somaliland security officials since his release last year from prison, where he was reportedly tortured by security personnel.

"During his imprisonment, Somaliland’s Criminal Investigation Department tortured Pastor Mohammed in order to obtain the names of the members of his house church, but failed to obtain any information from him," ICC said. "On the order of one of Somaliland's high-ranking government officials, Mohammed was imprisoned on December 3, 2007, for leading the official's niece to Christ," the grpup explained. "Though Pastor Mohammed was released on December 7" last year, "he has been placed under 24-hour surveillance..." ICC stressed n a statement obtained by BosNewsLife.

A representative of Somaliland to the United States, Saad Noor, has reportedly denied the pastor was persecuted, saying there are no Christians in the republic. Somaliland, which wants to separate from Somalia, has not been recognized by the international community, though it has had a functioning government since 1991 and declared independence.


ICC, which has close contacts in the region, quoted local sources as saying that Somaliland’s Criminal Investigation Department is currently infiltrated by "Islamic Jihadists who have compiled a list containing the names of several Somali church leaders whom they have vowed to eliminate using the Somaliland justice system."

The "anti-Christian Islamic militants" are allegedly members "of the fundamentalist Salafi movement which gave birth to [terror network] Al-Qaeda," ICC said.

ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Darara Gubo, said that "Somaliland should prove to the international community that it is a democratic country where freedom of religion is upheld. The international community should closely monitor and condemn the activities of Islamic fundamentalists who have infiltrated the security forces of Somaliland."

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