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3.11.4. Groups specialised in religious services

Last updated: June 2022

COI summary


The Ashraf are divided into the lines of Hussein and Hassan. Ashraf mainly inhabit the southern Somali coast from Mogadishu to Kismayo and they speak various local dialects. They are considered to be religious people. Women from Ashraf minority could be married by members of majority groups, due to the highly appreciated religious prestige attached to Ashraf in the eyes of other Somalis. [Targeting, 4.3., p. 69-70]

The current situation of Ashraf is characterized by their structural marginalisation as a minority group in southern Somalia. Ashraf are vulnerable to abuse and they do not have any militia defending them. Members of majority clans take advantage of them and rarely face serious consequences. Ashraf living in and around Baidoa have a slightly more protected position compared to other areas. [Targeting, 4.3., pp. 70-71]


Sheikhal are not one but several groups, with different cultures and dialects. The word ‘Sheikhal’ is simply the local plural of ‘sheikh’ and signifies a lineage who has an inherited religious status. The Sheikhal are scattered in different districts and regions of the country, e.g. Mogadishu, Belet Weyne, Jowhar, Middle and Lower Juba and Gedo. The main Sheikhal branches are the Jasira, the Gendershe, the Loboge, and the Aw Qutub. In the Somali parliament, three seats are reserved for Sheikhal clan, through the Hawiye clan family. [Targeting, 4.3., p. 71]

While some Sheikhal groups are politically strong, others are marginalised. The Gendershe and Jasira groups have the position of marginalised minority groups, whose members predominantly reside in Mogadishu and south of the city, and who have been marginalised and oppressed by majority group militias after the outbreak of the civil war 1991. In contrast, the sub-clans Loboge and Aw Qutub have a more ambiguous position. Older reports indicated that the Loboge had been allies of some Hawiye, had their own militia in the early 1990s and they had engaged in fighting. The Aw Qutub had suffered some discrimination or harassment in Somaliland from the dominant Isaaq clan, being suspected of disloyalty to the Somaliland state after 1991. [Targeting, 4.3., p. 72]


Conclusions and guidance 

   Do the acts qualify as persecution under Article 9 QD?   

Some acts reported to be committed against individuals under this profile are of such severe nature that they amount to persecution (e.g. some forms of abuse). When the acts in question are (solely) of discriminatory nature, the individual assessment of whether discrimination could amount to persecution should take into account the severity and/or repetitiveness of the acts or whether they occur as an accumulation of various measures.

   What is the level of risk of persecution (well-founded fear)?   

The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution in the whole of Somalia, including South-Central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland, should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: their area of origin in relation to the specific minority group they belong to and the local clan dynamics, gender, etc.

   Are the reasons for persecution falling within Article 10 QD (nexus)?   

Where well-founded fear of persecution is substantiated, available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of race. Furthermore, persecution of groups specialised in religious services may also be for reasons of membership of particular social group, based on an innate characteristic or common background which cannot be changed (the family they are born into/inherited religious status) and distinct identity in Somalia, as they are perceived as different in the Somali society.