The head of Somalia’s Banadir Regional Administration which oversees the affairs of the capital and largest coastal city, Mogadishu, said that he was not informed about the ban on Christmas celebrations issued by the national religious affairs ministry. Yusuf Hussein Jimcale, a comparatively moderate politician, dismissed the ban and said Somalia tolerates its Christian minorities who are free to practice their faith as them deem fit.
Jimcale also raised concerns about the security issue for these celebrations claiming that security forces will be on alert on possible Al-Shabab intimidations. Al-Shabab is a jihadist terrorist group based in East Africa that pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012.
There has been a public outcry after the Christmas ban of the religious ministry from top human rights organizations, the international media and other heavyweight figures which might have prompted the governor to issue such statement.
Somali Christians comprise less 2% of the population. With no consistent contact with outside world, their only church, the evangelical church in Mogadishu, has been ruined during Somalia’s ongoing conflict and there are so far no steps to renovate even as Mogadishu is experiencing a construction boom fuelled by the relative peace in the city.
All across the city, the Somali diaspora have been returning and are investing heavily in new construction. At the same time, the Banadir Administration in Mogadishu has announced that in 2016, the city will elect its first Mayor based on a one man/woman, one vote system. These preparations are surely a positive step in a country experiencing a relative peace for the first time in recent memory.