Persecution of Christians in a Somali context
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNorsk tidsskrift for misjonsvitenskap. 2012, 66 (3-4), 227-250.
The ethnic Somali inhabited area in the Horn of Africa is presumably the largest geographical area inhabited by a single people group in Africa. It covers most of the three adjoining political units of Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti, in addition to large areas of eastern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya. The region has for centuries been subject to prevailing frictions between the Muslim Somali population and their Christian neighbors. Professor Said S. Samatar describes this relationship accordingly: “Somali Islam is a frontier Islam, hemmed in on all sides by pagan and Christian interlopers. Characteristically, frontier Islam is bellicose, xenophobic and profoundly suspicious of alien influences.”1 Christian Somalis, although few and scattered, thus carry with them a difficult heritage pertaining to cultural and religious representation. Despite more than a hundred years of Protestant missionary efforts, the growth of the church in this area has been slow and the present number of evangelical Christian Somalis in the Horn of Africa presumably does not exceed a few hundred. This little group of believers constitutes a culturally marginalized and persecuted minority, and the story of the Christian church among the Somalis represents a story of unnamed struggles and sufferings.