By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - A detained Christian couple facing potential execution in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland for leaving Islam and spreading Christianity need prayers as their court hearing was postponed, supporters told Worthy News.
The couple, named only as Mohamed and Hamdi and other Somali Christians, “request continued prayer” confirmed advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).
Their appeal came amid concerns about the stress and deteriorating health of Hamdi, who could keep her newborn baby in prison, said MEC, which closely followed the case.
“Their [final] hearing, initially planned for May 22, was postponed without clear reasons,” MEC said. “Although a verdict is expected soon, a date has not been set for the hearing.”
The “long wait and uncertainty increases the stress on those detained. Additionally, Hamdi has not been well, “ MEC added.
Earlier in the trial, “the prosecutor said he believed” the ex-Muslims “committed ‘apostasy,’ the word used for abandoning Islam, MEC recalled earlier. “The judge responded that under Sharia [or Islamic] law, apostasy is punishable by death.”
Those remarks “leads those closely involved in the case to fear the couple is likely to be convicted” and executed, MEC suggested. Capital punishment in Somaliland could include killing by firing squad or other
In remarks shared by MEC, the couple and fellow believers asked Christians worldwide to pray for Hamdi’s health, successful advocacy efforts, and for “God’s closeness and strength.”
It was not immediately clear how the couple communicated with outsiders from their prison, but Christians managed to stay in touch with them, Worthy News learned.
The charges against the couple followed raids in early January and mid-February when police detained Mohamed and Hamdi, among other devoted Christians, Worthy News established.
The legal wrangling faced by the Christians underscores broader persecution of non-Muslims in Somalia and its Islamic breakaway region Somaliland, according to rights monitors.
All Christians from a Muslim background are in great danger in Somalia as “everybody is considered from a Muslim background,” said advocacy group Open Doors.
“Those living in areas under the control of the al-Shabab terror group “are particularly vulnerable,” it noted. “The pressure on Christians remains at an extreme level,” in the Horn of Africa nation of more than 16 million, the group explained.
Somalia is number 3 on the annual World Watch List of 50 nations, where Open Doors claims Christians face the most extreme persecution. Somaliland, where the Christians are held, is officially known as the Republic of Somaliland. Though a self-declared state, it is internationally considered to be an autonomous region of Somalia.