Despite a population of approximately 1,000 Christian believers in a country of 10 million, the threat of the message of Christmas is too much for the Islamic regime in Somalia. Mohamed Khayrow, the director general of Somalia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, announced on Wednesday that “All security forces are advised to halt or dissolve any gatherings. There should be no activity at all.”
As cover, Khayrow claimed that such celebrations would be potential targets for terrorists. But Sheik Nur Barud Gurhan, deputy chairman of the Supreme Religious Council of Somalia, was clearer: “We are warning against the celebration of such events, which are not relevant to the principles of our religion.”
This is contrary to Article 11 of Somalia’s new constitution, just adopted in August 2012, guaranteeing equal rights and freedom from persecution for all citizens regardless of religion, as well as Article 17 which protects freedom of religion.
But those constitutional protections are apparently just for show. According to Open Doors, a ministry supporting persecuted Christians, Somalia has the worst record in the world in how they treat Christian citizens, second only to North Korea.
The threat isn’t from terrorists, although Christians have been occasionally targeted in Somalia. The real threat, it seems, is the message of Christmas: the entry of God the Son from eternity into time, bringing the hope of salvation to a lost world.
In the Quran Jesus is considered just another prophet and precursor to the last, and greatest, one, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, whose religion is the only one acceptable to God. Traditionally, Islam rejects the trinitarian view: that there is one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus),and God the Holy Spirit. In fact, Islam claims that Jesus never claimed to be God the Son, but instead predicted the coming of the real prophet, Muhammad, who brought Islam into the world allegedly by special revelation.
That appears to be the real reason Christmas isn’t being celebrated, at least not openly or legally, in Somalia again this year, under threat of imprisonment, or worse. Somalia's Islamist rulers refuse to tolerate any expression of the idea that the only path to Heaven is through Jesus, Who said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).
Muhammad died in the year 632. Jesus lives. That essential Christian truth isn’t allowed to be celebrated in Somalia.
Photo shows a Somali Christian reading a prayer book in a locked room in Mogadishu: AP Images