The provisional federal constitution (PFC) provides for the right of individuals to practice their religion, within limits. The PFC makes Islam the state religion, prohibits the propagation of any religion other than Islam, and stipulates all laws must comply with the general principles of sharia. The federal government was unable to implement the PFC in areas of the country outside its control. Regional administrations, including the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, Puntland State, the Interim Juba Administration (IJA), and the Interim South West Administration (ISWA) governed parts of the country. The constitutions of Somaliland and Puntland State enshrine Islam as the state religion, prohibit Muslims from converting to another religion, bar the propagation of any religion other than Islam, and stipulate all laws must comply with the general principles of sharia. The constitution of Somaliland also stipulates freedom of belief. Puntland’s constitution stipulates non-Muslims shall enjoy the freedom of their faith and not be coerced to convert to another religion; there were no reports of abuses of that right by the Puntland State authorities. The newly formed IJA and smaller regional governments did not create laws directly addressing religious freedom.
The terrorist group Al-Shabaab harassed, maimed, or killed persons suspected of converting from Islam or those who failed to adhere to the group’s edicts. African Union and Somali national army forces successfully reestablished federal government authority over many rural areas and significant population centers in south-central Somalia formerly controlled by al-Shabaab.
There was strong societal pressure to adhere to traditions associated with Sunni Islam. Conversion from Islam to another religion remained socially unacceptable in all areas. Those suspected of conversion faced harassment by members of their community.
The United States had no permanent diplomatic presence in the country. U.S. government officials traveled to Somalia when security conditions permitted. U.S. government efforts to promote religious freedom focused on supporting efforts to bring stability and reestablish the rule of law.