Six Somaliland Christian converts from Islam were charged on 4 April with offences against the state religion (Islam) and inciting others to disobey laws relating to public order.
Among them were Mohamed and Hamdi, a couple arrested with their new-born baby in late January 2021. Together with another Christian, they were additionally charged with apostasy (from Islam) as well as spreading and teaching Christianity.
The indictment did not mention an Ethiopian Christian woman, Aster, arrested with the couple, and a Somali Christian woman, who was living with them and was also detained by police from the capital Hargeisa. Their lawyer is working to clarify their status.
In September 2020, another Christian couple were arrested in Somaliland for being “apostates and evangelists spreading Christianity”. They were later unexpectedly deported following the intervention of European government representatives.
Islam is the official religion of Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Its constitution states that individuals have the right to freedom of belief. However, the constitution also 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 (Islamic law).