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"They call for my slaughter": Somali atheists living in fear


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As religious fundamentalism intensifies in Somali communities, in the country and abroad, some Somali atheists face harassment and threats on and offline.  Hassan dreads each sunset. When the skies darken in Nairobi, Kenya, the threats begin. He is too scared to leave his home but his taunters, mostly his neighbors, find him: They pummel the walls and metal door of his room in a concrete five-story building. Hassan, a 25-year old Somali refugee, has only lived in Nairobi a few months, but his neighbors — who are all Somali Muslims —  have found out he has renounced Islam. To some of the most devout Muslims, being an atheist is punishable by death. “My life has been a living hell. They are spreading that I have left the faith,” Hassan, who is using a pseudonym for fear of reprisals, told Global Voices. “I’ve reported it to the police, but nobody got arrested.” The Somali atheist community spans the globe with many still “in the closet,” hiding their beliefs from their families, friends and neighbors for fear of repercussions. Many seek solace through online communities, such as Facebook groups, Reddit threads, and YouTube channels, using pseudonyms.

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