Originally published in Morning Star News
Gunmen in central Somalia on Saturday (Dec. 8) killed an underground Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam, area sources said.
Two unidentified masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, for leaving Islam, Muslim and Christian sources told Morning Star News. The assailants fled immediately after the murder.
Siad’s oldest daughter (name withheld), 15, said her father was killed “because he failed to attend the mosque for prayers and used to pray at home. He used to share with us about Jesus.” She said that he had received messages on his mobile phone stating, “We know what you are doing, and you must stop, otherwise you risk your life.”
Siad’s 42-year-old wife (name withheld), three daughters and two sons have fled the area, fearing for their lives.
A Christian source in Mogadishu confirmed the killing, and a Muslim resident of the Beledweyne area also said Siad was killed for leaving Islam.
“Siad deserved to die because he was not committed to the Islamic religion,” the resident said.
Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000 according to a source who used to worship with them, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months ago, after Somalia’s transitional federal government and African Union Mission in Somalia troops captured Beledweyne from Al Shabaab rebels. Siad had taken a job with a local Non-Governmental Organization.
“Since we arrived from Doolow, my parents have not been attending the worship at the mosque, but they have been allowing us to worship at the nearby mosque,” his daughter said.
As the gunmen were masked, she was unable to say whether the assailants were local. The area is under government control and there is no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels who have vowed to rid the country of Christianity, but the Islamic extremist insurgents are present in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, and Christians believe a few Al Shabaab rebels could be hiding in Beledweyne.
In the coastal city of Barawa on November 16, Al-Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, Christian sources said.
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in Somalia’s Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim.