06/25/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Ethiopian officials have arbitrarily detained and arrested a Christian evangelist under charges of terrorism and treason in response to his Christian faith and activities. The evangelist was initially arrested in late March of this year in Dodola, a city located 180 miles south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Alemayehu Legese, an Ethiopian evangelist, was arrested by local police after having admitted to owning literature that “discussed the history of Islam from a Christian perspective.” Legese, a student at Dodola Mekane Yesus Bible School, had dropped the literature off at a copy shop. A Muslim employee subsequently contacted authorities to demand Legese face consequences for violating the widespread cultural belief that Christians, being inferior citizens, are morally insufficient to learn the history of Islam.
In addition, Legese was known for his outwardly evangelistic nature. It is believed that because of this, as well as the fact that he coordinated faith-based activities for youths at his local church, Legese was made a target for arrest and ultimately arbitrarily detained
In court, Legese’s lawyer objected to the charges of both terrorism and treason, and as a result, the court ordered public prosecutors to modify their charges against Legese. The prosecution has yet to do so. Until the prosecution submits new charges against Legese, he will continue to sit in jail, awaiting charges that may take years to be submitted.
“I think the evangelist is arrested to discourage other Christians from teaching [the gospel] in the area… All the government officials in the area are Muslims and this has created a big problem [for the Christians],” said a Christian legal expert who asked to remain anonymous.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, says, “We are concerned about the growing persecution of believers in the Muslim-dominated areas of Ethiopia. The fact that the public prosecutor charged Legese with terrorism and treason is an alarming development, as it indicates the manner in which Islamic radicals have infiltrated the justice system in the country. We ask all concerned to contact the Ethiopian Embassy, either by phone at (202) 364-1200 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to demand immediate freedom for Legese.”
For interviews, contact William Stark: RM-AfricaAsia@persecution.org
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