Young Somaliland woman jailed for five years for converting to Christianity

Originally published by International Christian Concern

Hani is a young woman in her mid-twenties serving a five-year sentence for converting to Christianity.

Her family lives in Hargeisa, the capital of the Republic of Somaliland. A former Muslim, Hani heard the truth of the gospel from some of her fellow students while she studied in Ethiopia in October 2021.

A Christian man who led her to Christ in June this year spoke to International Christian Concern (ICC). He is one of five men who were arrested in 2021 for converting from Islam to Christianity and was later released.

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He said: “Hani came back to Somaliland in June, and she was desperately seeking the truth about Christianity. She had heard about Christ from her friends in Ethiopia, and a hunger for truth developed in her. By God’s grace, she was connected to us.

“After our release from jail last year, we have become even bolder in reaching out with the Gospel since our families and friends know about our faith. We explained the Gospel to Hani in detail, and also informed her of the risks involved in leaving Islam and following Christ.

“We made it clear that she would face serious rejection by her family and persecution from the Muslims. She said there was more hope in Christ than following the teachings of the Koran, and she would not consider acceptance by family and miss eternal life. We prayed for her salvation and asked the Lord to protect her.”

Hani did not immediately disclose that she had become a Christian, but after a week, she wanted to be baptised. An underground church agreed to baptise her, which she did without her family’s knowledge.

“Hani’s conversion came to be known to the public after she shared a picture of her being baptised on Facebook,” explained the man who led her to Christ. “Her family saw the photos and called the police on her.

“She was arrested and taken to jail on the charges of conversion, which is a punishable offence in Somaliland. She was in jail for a while and was promised her freedom if she renounced Christ. Hani refused to do that.”

Hani remained in jail for five weeks without any charges being levelled against her. In August, a Hargeisa-based court sentenced her to five years after she admitted that she had become a Christian.

“Before the court, Hani did not deny that she was a Christian, so she was found guilty of blasphemy and was not given the option of bail. She is currently serving her sentence. Her Facebook account was also taken down, and there is not much in my hands in terms of photos.

“Somaliland is trying to keep all things quiet because they know this could interfere with the process of them trying to get international recognition as an independent country from Somalia.”

Fellow believers in Somaliland have been praying for Hani. Although they want her to be released, they are also worried about her security at home, since her family can kill her if she is released.

“We are appealing to the court to hear Hani’s case again and release her. We also pray that God gives her a safe place once she is out of prison so that she can grow spiritually and continue with her life.”

PLEASE PRAY

Pray that Hani will stand firm in her faith and will find ways to continue deepening her relationship with Christ while in prison.

Pray that through Hani’s bold witness and refusal to renounce Christ, her family members and fellow prisoners will want to know more about Jesus.

Pray that the court will accept Hani’s appeal and that she will be released with a dismissal of charges and an official pardon.

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