Elections may mean change for Christians in Somaliland

By June 29, 2010

Somaliland (MNN) — Christians may soon experience much more
persecution in the republic of Somaliland. Despite the protests of an Islamic
group, Somaliland, located in the northwest of Somalia, held presidential
elections Saturday.

Though a small clash after the elections
resulted in the death of one observer, the polling was peaceful, surrounded by
tight security according to CNN.

That elections even took place was a victory over al-Shabaab,
an Islamic group from southern Somalia whose leader, Sheik Mukhtar Abdirahman
Abu Zubeyr, warned, "Those who take part in those so-called elections will face
the consequences," according to AFP. He also called democracy "the devil's
principles" in an audio message to local media.

With elections still proceeding with minimal violence, Somaliland
hopes this will set them apart from Somalia. Though they declared independence
from Somalia in 1991, they have yet to receive international diplomatic
recognition, according to the CIA World Factbook.

However, Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, USA , said they
are hoping the recent elections will change this. Nettleton said they are
thinking: "We can have free elections; we can have an orderly transition
of power. The rest of the world should recognize us, compared to the rest of
Somalia which is essentially in chaos and anarchy."

Mired by civil war since the fall of their dictator, Siad
Barre, in 1991, CNN reported on Somalia, "In May (2010), the fighting
intensified in Mogadishu (the capital city) and displaced more than 270,000
people, causing the number of internally displaced persons to reach 1.5 million

Many have fled to Somaliland, where the Christians among
them have been met with acceptance. The main
concern now is whether or not Somaliland will go the way of Somalia in their
treatment of believers.

Speaking of Somalia, Nettleton said, "It's a very
dangerous place to be a Christian; it literally means laying down your life if
you want to be open about your faith." Just in the last 18 months, nearly
20 Christians have been executed for their faith.

Nettleton said, depending on which candidate is elected, the
government could change to adopt sharia law and begin treating Christians worse:
"At this point, it's a little bit early to tell exactly how it will play
out. But the reality is: it is something that we need to be watching. It is
something that is going to affect our brothers and sisters, so it needs to be
an item on our prayer list, as well."

Pray for the safety of Christians in Somalia and Somaliland
and for the hearts of Muslims to be softened. Pray for courage among believers there,
especially when they risk their lives to share Christ.

Check out Voice of the Martyrs' Web site to learn more
about the persecuted church around the world and how to

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