Al Shabaab rebel (Courtesy Assist News Service) (Map courtesy Google Maps)
Somalia (MNN) ¯ As if in answer to the capture of 300 Al-Shabaab members last month in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, the attacks on civilians have gotten more extreme and more public.
The latest attack came last Friday when Islamic extremists brutally murdered a Christian in the city of Barawa, in broad daylight. http://www.mnnonline.org/groups/VOM - Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton explains, "In this case, it is a 25-year-old man named Farhan Haji Mose. He apparently became a Christian in 2010, out of a Muslim background."
Nettleton goes on to say that Mose "had a business in Somalia which required him to travel to Kenya. It's thought that he met Christians while he was in Kenya, received the Gospel, and received Christ." Muslim extremists then tracked Mose for six months, to confirm his Christian activity before catching him and accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said.
Al Shabaab members caught up with Mose in the coastal city of Barawa in Somalia. He was accused, and convicted by the impromptu "court," while a crowd assembled to witness the sentence that comes with an apostasy conviction. Nettleton clarifies that "in the minds of a radical Islamic militant, these people are apostates. They've left to follow another religion. The just punishment is execution."
Mose was summarily beheaded, and then his body was desecrated as a warning for others. "Their goal is to rid Somalia of Christianity," notes Nettleton. The number of Christians who have been tracked down and murdered has been growing over the last couple of years. What's more, he adds, is ominous news that the religicide isn't held to Somalia's borders. "We've heard reports that Al Shabaab literally has a list of people they are looking for who are suspected of having left Islam and being Christians."
Chaos normally creates more chaos. "The goal of Al Shabaab is to create fear, to create control. What better way to do that than to show publicly what happens to somebody who leaves Islam to follow another faith?" Al-Shabaab is enforcing a harsh interpretation of sharia in the territories it controls. This militia was strongly radicalized through the external influence of al-Qaeda in recent years.
In the confusion of a failed state and the presence of uncontrolled militias, the result is anarchy. Christians are extra vulnerable these circumstances. This is where Voice of the Martyrs can help. While they can't reveal everything they're doing, says Nettleton, "One of the things that we are doing is providing safe houses for Christian converts. As we talk about this case, the Muslims who come to faith in Christ know very well the risks they face. So sometimes, having a place to go where they're safe--not only where they can be safe, but where they're discipled--is an incredible blessing."
Safe houses means someone needs them, which means Al Shabaab has not wholly succeeded in stopping the Gospel or ridding the country of Christians. Muslim-background believers (MBBs) do not have organized church groups because of the risk. They exist as individual secret believers and can only know a few others to make an underground group. According to reports from Open Doors, the largest known group in Somalia is composed of five believers.
What can you do? Prayer is the first defense. It's often the only thing a church under fire requests. Ask the Lord to give wisdom to authorities in Somalia. Pray that the Lord will bring an end to Al Shabaab's activities and influence in Somalia and in bordering nations. Pray that Christians will not retaliate in anger, but will show Christ-like love and forgiveness to their persecutors.
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