The provisional federal constitution (PFC) provides for the right of individuals to practice their religion, 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 beyond greater Mogadishu in areas of the country outside its control. Federal state and interim regional administrations, including Somaliland, Puntland, the Interim Juba Administration (IJA), the Interim South West Administration (ISWA), and the Interim Galmudug Administration (IGA), governed their respective jurisdictions through local legislation. The constitutions of Somaliland and Puntland declare Islam as the state religion, prohibit Muslims from converting to another religion, bar the propagation of any religion other than Islam, and require all laws to comply with the general principles of sharia. On December 23, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MRA) announced a ban on Christmas celebrations and warned that Christian festivities could threaten the nation’s Muslim faith. The government reversed this decision on December 24, but it retained the right to cancel any celebrations for security reasons.
The terrorist group al-Shabaab killed, maimed, or harassed persons suspected of converting from Islam or those who failed to adhere to the group’s religious edicts. During the year, al-Shabaab was responsible for killings of civilians, government officials, members of parliament, Somali national armed forces and police, and troops from contributing countries of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
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 the country when security conditions permitted for discussions with in-country government officials. U.S. government efforts to promote religious freedom focused on supporting efforts to bring stability and reestablish the rule of law.