Washington, D.C. (January 25, 2012) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 14 Somali Islamists arrested a Muslim father after two of his teenage children converted to Christianity in Kismayo, Somalia. The two sons of Mo’alim Mohamud Aw-Omar converted to Christianity late last year. They fled their homes following their conversion.
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Members of the radical Islamic group, al-Shabaab, accused Aw-Omar of “failing to raise his sons as good Muslims” because “good Muslims cannot convert to Christianity.” Aw-Omar, who is still a Muslim, insisted that his sons have memorized the Qur’an, fasted and prayed regularly and therefore he should not be accused of failing his duties.
According to sources on the ground, the Islamists have refused to release Aw-Omar until his two sons return to Kismayo. This is unlikely to happen because the teenagers will be killed if they return. According to the strict interpretation of the Islamic sharia law that Al-Shabaab follows, leaving Islam is a crime punishable by death. The law is based on the Hadith “…The Prophet of Allah said, ‘If somebody [a Muslim] discards his religion, kill him” Bukhari (52:260).
Radical Islamists have killed a number of Christian converts in Somalia. This is the first confirmed case of a parent being arrested for the conversion of children.
In a statement to ICC, a Somali Christian leader said, “This tactic (of arresting parents for conversion of children) is apparently intended to discourage Muslims from converting to Christianity since their Muslim parents could be held accountable for their conversion. The Somali Islamists have previously tried other failed harsh tactics such as summary executions of converts to minimize the number of Muslims converting to Christianity. Please pray for the Somali Christians, especially those living in Islamist controlled areas in southern Somalia.”
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, “The Somali people have suffered enough. Al-Shabaab shouldn’t be allowed to continue terrorizing Somalis. We urge Al-Shabaab to respect the religious freedom of all Somalis. We also urge Christians around the world to pray for their brothers and sisters in Somalia.”