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Country rank   3
Last year’s rank   3
Region   Africa
Population   16 589 000
Christians   Hundreds (Open Doors Estimate)
Main Religion   Islam


For more than 25 years, Somalia has been a safe haven for Islamic militants who constantly target Christians both in Somalia and in neighbouring countries. Groups like al-Shabaab operate with seemingly little pushback and control large parts of Somali territory. The small number of believers in Somalia are largely Christians who have converted from Islam. Christians are viewed as high-value targets by al-Shabaab. Even when Christian converts are not targeted by Islamic extremists, they are intensely pressured by their families. Any conversion from Islam is seen as a betrayal to family and community, so just suspicion of conversion can lead to harassment, intimidation and even murder. No place is safe (even the home) for a Christian in Somalia, and pressure in every area of life is intense and unending.

What has changed this year? Despite a slight decrease in violent attacks against Christians, persecution remains extreme in Somalia. Amidst the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, al-Shabab continued to be active in 2021 – a reminder that life for Christians in Somalia is never safe.

Meet “Fatuma”

“The first time in court, they made us sign our death certificates … They told us, ‘You have to deny Jesus right now,’ and we said, ‘No, we will not deny the Lord, but we will rather sign for our death.”

Fatuma, a Somali Christian living in the Horn of Africa (not necessarily Somalia) who was arrested for her faith, along with her husband.


Pray for Somalia

  • Pray for peace in Somalia and success in establishing democracy even as the country deals with political upheaval, the constant threat of al-Shabab and the effects of decades of civil war.
  • Nearly 100% of Somalis are Muslim, and there is no room for Christians. Islam is the state religion – only Islam can be promoted and Shariah law is the highest authority. Pray that God would continue to build up His people in Somalia despite these realities.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and protection over our work in the Horn of Africa and that our efforts will bear much fruit.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in the Horn of Africa?

Open Doors strengthens the Church throughout the Horn of Africa through partners; our work has been primarily about finding the few pockets of severely persecuted Christians and supporting them in whatever way possible. Open Doors also raises prayer and advocacy for Christians in Somalia.

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