By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Christians have urged prayers for a couple who could face the death penalty in Somalia on Tuesday for abandoning Islam and “spreading Christianity” after in the Sunni Muslim nation.
The two devoted Christians, identified as Mohamed and Hamdi, will likely hear their fate was “what is believed to be the final hearing” in their trial, said Christians involved in the case.
“An expected final hearing for them and several co-defendants accused of crimes against Islam took place on May 8 with the proceedings now carrying over to Tuesday,” confirmed advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).
During the trial, “the prosecutor said he believed” the ex-Muslims “committed ‘apostasy,’ the word used for abandoning Islam, MEC added.
“The judge responded that under Sharia [or Islamic] law, apostasy is punishable by death,” the group told Worthy News. “This, and similar discussions between prosecutor and judge, leads those closely involved in the case to fear the couple is likely to be convicted.”
The charges follow raids in early January and mid-February, when police detained Mohamed and Hamdi and other defendants, Worthy
News learned. Hamdi was reportedly allowed to keep their newborn baby with her in prison.
With a possible execution sentence drawing near, Mohamed, Hamdi, and other Somali Christians requested prayers, MEC stressed.
MEC said the Christians asked prayers that those detained “experience God’s closeness and strength,” especially during the trial, and that “ongoing advocacy efforts will bear fruit.”
They also pray for “God’s intervention; that the court will decide in favor of the defendants” and give “strength, wisdom, and boldness for the lawyers who represent them,” MEC added.
Somali Christians also hope that international observers will be able to attend Tuesday’s hearing, activists said.
The legal wrangling faced by the Christians underscores broader persecution of non-Muslims in Somalia and its Islamic breakaway region Somaliland, according to rights monitors.
All Christians from a Muslim background are in great danger in Somalia as “everybody is considered from a Muslim background,”
said advocacy group Open Doors.
“Those living in areas under the control of the al-Shabab terror group “are particularly vulnerable,” it noted. “The pressure on Christians” in the Horn of Africa nation of more than 16 million “remains at an extreme level,” the group explained.
Somalia is number 3 on the annual World Watch List of 50 nations, where advocacy group Open Doors claims Christians face the most extreme persecution.
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