A group of Christians in Somaliland have been released from detention after charges against them relating to offences against the state religion of Islam were dismissed. Among them were Mohamed and Hamdi, a couple who were arrested with their new-born baby in late January 2021.
In April, six Christian converts from Islam were charged with apostasy, teaching and spreading Christianity, as well as inciting others to commit public-order offences. In a hearing at a regional court in Hargeisa, the capital city, on 5 August the court dismissed all charges. Mohamed, Hamdi and others were released immediately.
There are fears that the verdict may have negative repercussions for Somaliland’s tiny Christian community, particularly given a recent call by a Senate committee to apply sharia (Islamic law) in apostasy cases.
Islam is the official religion of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland. Its constitution prohibits Muslims from converting to another religion, bars the propagation of any religion other than Islam, and stipulates all laws must comply with the general principles of sharia.