Liberia: Man, 21, Suffers ‘Religious Persecution’ for Joining Christianity’
MONROVIA – A 21-year old Liberian identified as Ayouba Sanoe has expressed fear of returning to his homeland because of his religious belief.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
According to Sanoe, since he converted from Islam to Christianity, there have been several attempts on his life.
Sanoe said because of his decision to join the Christian faith, he has come under constant attacks from unknown people which led to the burning of his home and all of his belongings.
He lamented that following the incident and based on the advice from friends, he decided to escaped Liberia.
Explaining his ordeal, he said: “When I made up my mind to join the Christian religion, one day a friend by the name Oumaru told me that he heard a rumor that unknown people are going to burn my house, and I asked why would they do that? And he said he also don’t know. I became vigilant and careful of everything I do.”
“On this fateful Thursday evening on my way from service,” he continues, “I left from a far distance and saw my house at blaze and tried to escape. Fortunately for me, I went to my friend Oumaru’s house for rescue since he’s also a Christian. I spent three weeks in Oumaru family compound who helped me facilitate my traveling out of Liberia, and till now, my friend Oumaru and his parents are the only people who know my whereabouts.”
When asked why he decided to become a Christian, Sanoe responded, “I join Christianity because I like the religion. I was convinced and decided to follow my heart. I did not offend anybody. But to my surprise, I became a target.”
He narrated that he converted to Christianity in April 2016 but because of constant ‘reprisal’ meted against him, he had to flee his homeland.
Christian and Muslim Population in Liberia
According to the 2008 National Census, 85.5 percent of Liberia’s population practices Christianity, while Muslims comprise 12.2 percent of the population.
The two religious sects have co-existed peacefully for many years, but this revelation by Sanoe may confirm reports of reprisal and rejection meted against Muslims who converted to Christianity by relatives and friends.
An anonymous Muslim confirmed to this reporter that in most cases, Muslims who break away face some forms of discriminations and rejections by some conservative relatives.
According to him, these relatives’ actions against breakaway Muslims are somehow justifiable because they are thought that the only true religion is Islam; “therefore, watching your son or daughter turning his or her back from that true religion is frustrating.
“Most often, our parents and elders don’t like the idea. Sometimes they can curse you and disowned you and make your life miserable. That’s why you hardly heard about Muslims breakaway because in some countries, the action is punishable by death,” he averred.
Many have already become comparing Sanoe’s situation to that of a Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun who fled her family for renouncing Islam and was granted asylum in Canada in January 2019.
Ms. Qunun, 18 was initially fleeing to Australia via Bangkok, Thailand, but was told to return to Kuwait, where her family were waiting.
She refused to fly back and barricaded herself into her airport hotel room, attracting international attention that led to the intervention of the United Nations and the Canadian Government.