months ago, Christian sources said Friday, September 15. Barnabas Fund, a well-informed group supporting Christians in mainly Islamic nations, told BosNewsLife that 22-year-old Ali Mustaf Maka‘il, a clothing merchant and college student, was assassinated September 7 in the Manabolyo quarter of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
It quoted a source, who requested anonymity, as saying that the attackers were "loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts (ICU)," a militant Islamist organization that took power in Mogadishu in early June 2006. The group now controls much of southern Somalia.
"The gunman shot Ali in the back after he refused to join a crowd chanting Qur’an verses in honor of the lunar eclipse," Barnabas Fund said. Solar and lunar eclipses are significant in Islam and are accompanied by special congregational prayers, experts say.
The ICU allegedly "confiscated his body for 24 hours" before delivering it to the grieving family, Barnabas Fund reported.
"It seems that under the new Islamist rulers, who include hard-line jihadi elements, the tragic history of persecution and martyrdom for Somalia’s tiny Christian community is set to continue and most likely to worsen," the group stressed.
Since July three Christians were reportedly shot and killed by Islamists. Earlier in October 2005 an evangelist and house church leader, Osman Sheik Ahmed, "was shot dead by Islamist radicals," Barnabas Fund recalled.
In addition Children of Christian Somali refugees in Kenya have been kidnapped by Muslim relatives and taken to Islamic institutions in Somalia for “rehabilitation”, rights investigators said.
The leader of the ICU, Hassan Dahir Aweys, has reportedly promised to implement Sharia (Muslim Law) in all areas he controls. Under Sharia those who leave Islam for another religion must be killed.
"ICU leaders have even threatened to kill as apostates Muslims who are lax in their prayers, claiming this is commanded by Sharia," Barnabas Fund added.
Several Muslims have been publicly flogged for drug related offences since the ICU took control, the group said. Over 99.5% of Somalis are Muslims and regard Christianity as a foreign religion of their historic enemies in Ethiopia and of their former colonial masters the Italians and the British, analysts say.
Barnabas Fund said there is "a long history of conflict between Muslim Somalis and Christian Ethiopians," so "anti-Christian sentiment runs deep." Rights groups say that the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the recent Israeli attacks against Hizbullah in Lebanon have further fuelled and inflamed the "inherent” hostility to the West and to Christians. (With reports from Somalia, and BosNewsLife Research).