Stories of the Persecuted: Somali Christian Beaten for Faith in Kenya

From ICC’s blog, Crossing the Bridge

Walking from Eastleigh to his home in another district of Nairobi, Kenya, 25-year-old Hasan was being followed. Hasan had made the mistake of mentioning his Christian faith over his cell phone to a friend while shopping in the crowded Eastleigh marketplace. For Kenyans in Nairobi, this would not be a problem, but Hasan is not Kenyan, he’s Somali.

In Eastleigh, where the Somali terrorist group, Al-Shabaab and its sympathizers are known to be active, it is assumed that a Somali Christian is a convert from Islam – an apostate – and should thereby be punished in accordance with Islamic Sharia law. Execution by beheading is one form of punishment that is often carried out against Christian converts in Somalia.

Christianity, however, was all that Hasan had ever known. The son of an evangelist in southern Somalia, Hasan had been raised a Christian from an early age. He and his family had fled Somalia ten years earlier when his father was brutally murdered for his Christian faith. Little did the family know that the persecution they faced in Somalia would follow them to Kenya.

Nearing his house with the supplies his mother had asked him to purchase, Hasan was attacked by six Somali Muslims with iron rods and wooden clubs. Hasan remembers little, as he soon lost consciousness. His assailants, thinking he was dead, dropped him off bleeding and naked outside the gate of a Presbyterian church as a ‘warning’ to other Christians. The church guards called his mother and immediately took him to the hospital.

When I reached the scene of the attack, my son was lying in a pool of blood. The attackers had covered my son all over with dirt,” Hasan’s mother, whose name cannot be disclosed for security reasons, told ICC.

At the hospital, Hasan received a blood transfusion and eventually regained consciousness, but a slow and arduous healing process awaited him.

Since the time my son was attacked, we have been spending sleepless nights due to the pain that he has been going through,” his mother said. “He risks losing a third tooth, which is adding more pain for him. He also complains of abdominal pains; possibly he might have hurt some of his internal organs. But we are helpless; we have no money for specialized medication for him.”

Hasan filed a report at the police station and was asked to identify his attackers. Two of the Somali men were arrested soon after, but have since been released. While police claim the Somalis had escaped, Hasan thinks that a bribe was paid for their release.

Now, out of prison, the Somali group is looking to finish the job they had started. Hasan has received several phone calls threatening to kill him and other members in his family. “When we find you again, we will not make the mistake of leaving you alive,” Hasan recalled one caller as saying.

Hasan, his mother and five younger siblings have since been in hiding, moving from one house to another to avoid being attacked again.

When ICC visited Hasan a month after the attack, he was still badly bruised, could hardly see out of his right eye which was black, and was missing teeth. ICC is paying for Hasan’s surgery and medication, and is helping the family move into a safe neighborhood and setting up a small business.

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