Remembering Martyrs: Yusuf Ali Nur, Somalia

04 May 2023

At 10:30am, several armed men affiliated with the extremist group al-Shabaab broke into Yusuf Ali Nur’s home in Xarardheere, Somalia.

The militants had just taken control of the area from a rival rebel group and were searching houses for enemy soldiers. While Nur was not hiding any soldiers, he was hiding his Christian faith.

As a leader of the underground Christian church movement in Somalia, Nur knew that Christians like him were constantly targeted by al-Shabaab due to their vow to eradicate Christianity from the country.

Despite the danger, Nur chose to remain in Somalia and move to the extremist-controlled area of Xarardheere in 2009. He had previously been working as a farmhand in Jowhar, but even then, al-Shabaab had suspected him of being a Christian.

In Xarardheere, Nur worked as a private school teacher at Ganane Primary School, teaching English despite the militants’ preference for Arabic. Despite the growing violence in the region and al-Shabaab’s prohibition of radio stations playing music and school bells ringing, Nur remained committed to his work.

On that fateful Tuesday morning, as members of al-Shabaab stormed into his house, Nur knew that he had to be ready to die. The militants immediately recognised him and shot him at close range, leaving his wife and three children behind.

Yusuf Ali Nur was one of only one thousand practising Christians in the predominantly Islamic nation of eight million people. He lived in an area where persecution was particularly intense, but Nur chose to serve others humbly and be the light of Jesus in the darkness of Somalia.

He understood that we are at war, even in our daily lives, and that the powers and principalities of darkness seek to stamp out the light of Christ. Despite having no weapons, Nur fought to retain his faith and exemplify the love and peace that Christ offers, sharing in the suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

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