Somaliland: Woman gets five-year sentence for converting to Christianity

November 29, 2022

The Republic of Somaliland is a breakaway region of the nation of Somalia. Most of the nations of the world consider it to be part of Somalia, but Somaliland has declared its independence and maintains autonomy from the Mogadishu government.

There are virtually no Christians in Somaliland, and Islamic law (Sharia) is the law of the land, which forbids proselytizing or the preaching of any religion other than Islam. 

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Somaliland, see here.

“Hani is Serving a Five Year Term in a Somaliland Jail for Converting to Christianity,” International Christian Concern, November 28, 2022:

11/28/2022 Somaliland (International Christian Concern) – Hani is a young woman in her mid-twenties serving a five-year sentence for converting to Christianity. Her family lives in Hargeisa, the capital of the Republic of Somaliland. A former Muslim, Hani heard the truth of the gospel from some of her fellow students while she studied in Ethiopia in October 2021.

A Christian man who led her to Christ in June this year spoke to ICC. He is one of five men who were arrested in 2021 for converting from Islam to Christianity and later released.

He said, “Hani came back to the country in June, and she was desperately seeking the truth about Christianity. She had heard about Christ from her friends in Ethiopia, and a hunger for truth developed in her. By God’s grace, she was connected to us. After our release from jail last year, we have become even bolder in reaching out with the gospel since our families and friends know about our faith. We explained the gospel to Hani in detail and also informed her of the risks involved in leaving Islam and following Christ. We made it clear that she would face serious rejection by her family and persecution from the Muslims. She said there was more hope in Christ than following the teachings of the Quran, and she would not consider acceptance by family and miss eternal life. We prayed for her salvation and asked the Lord to protect her.”

Hani did not disclose immediately that she had become a Christian. After a week, she wanted to be baptized after completing a short training on the Christian faith. An underground church went on to baptize her, and she went back home. None of her family members were aware of this.

“Hani’s conversion came to be known to the public after she shared a picture of her being baptized on Facebook. The family saw the photos and called the police on her. She was arrested and taken to jail on the charges of conversion, which is a punishable offense in Somaliland. She was in jail for a while and was promised her freedom if she renounced Christ. Hani refused to do that.”

Hani remained in jail for five weeks without any charges being leveled against her. In August, a Hargeisa-based court sentenced her to five years after she admitted that she had become a Christian.

“Before the court, Hani did not deny that she was a Christian, so she was found guilty of blasphemy and was not given the option of bail. She is currently serving her term. Her Facebook account was also brought down, and there is not much in my hands in terms of photos. Somaliland is trying to keep all things quiet because they know this could interfere with the process of them trying to get international recognition as an independent country from Somalia.”…

Questions remain whether Somaliland would uphold the freedom to worship if it is recognized as an independent country away from Somalia.