Threatened with death, tortured and beaten for weeks in prison, Somali refugee receives the death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity
A Yemen court meted out the death penalty Wednesday to a Somali refugee for converting from Islam to Christianity, unless he recants within seven days. Mohammed Omer Haji, 27, was given a one-week ultimatum by Adens Tawahi Court to return to Islam, or face execution under Islamic law for committing apostasy. “His situation is very serious and very dangerous,” the converts defense lawyer, Mohammed Abdul Karim Omarawi, told Compass.
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According to a handwritten letter from Haji drafted after his first arrest this year, five Yemen security police detained him at his home on January 16. After 23 days in the Tawahi police station, he was transferred to security police custody, and then imprisoned in the Mansoora Jail until his release March 13.Haji said police officials gave him no reason for his arrest except his Christian faith. They slapped and hit him, he said, declaring, “We arrested you because you are a Christian. You are George, the Christian Somali.”An article in the Islam party’s Al Sahwah newspaper during this first imprisonment reported that Haji had declared to Tawahi police that he and his wife had embraced Christianity, and that he had changed his name from Mohammed to George. The report said documents indicated both the husband and wife had been born of Muslim parents in Somalia.
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Throughout the following weeks, Haji said he was threatened and beaten every night, “very badly,” with police officers warning him they would kill him if he did not return to Islam. The officials interrogated him repeatedly about any other Somali Christians he knew, he said. “They were beating and punishing me every night, [so] I was not able even to stand and walk and even to talk,” he stated.On what the convert called “my worst night,” three security officers and another three policemen masked him and took him up a high mountain at midnight. After giving him a severe beating, they vowed to throw him off the mountain if he refused to recant. “To save my life that night,” Haji admitted, “I said I believe in Islam. Otherwise I would have died.”The following day, the Yemen authorities allowed another individual with UNHCR connections to talk privately with Haji. The convert said this person advised him, “No one can do anything for you. So you’d better become a Muslim to end your problems.
Yemen Court Sentences Somali Convert to Death
Barbara G. Baker, Christianity Today, July 7, 2000
At least nine ex-Muslims remain detained for converting to Christianity, amid international concerns they may be tortured or killed for abandoning Islam
At least some nine Christian converts remained detained in Yemen Friday, August 22, amid international concerns they may be tortured or even killed because of their decision to abandon Islam.
Yemeni authorities have reportedly admitted they detained the former Muslims between May and August this year. US-based International Christian Concern (ICC), a major human rights group, said it received the names of several detainees, but added it could not publicly identify them due to safety concerns.
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It said the PSO is “infamous for carrying out extrajudicial killings, torture and other forms of egregious human rights violations with impunity.” ICC told BosNewsLife that the imprisoned Christians are “also feared to be experiencing torture and even facing death.”
Yemen Detains Nine Ex-Muslims For Converting To Christianity
BosNewsLife, August 25, 2008