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ICC NOTE: Ethiopian Christians endured terrible suffering in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the communist regime took over the government. Presently, militant Muslim groups and even tension with Orthodox churches have brought attacks and harassment. Pray for these Christians as their country is bracing for a potential military conflict with neighboring Eritrea.

Ethiopia Evangelist Seriously Injured After Attack, Persecution Spreads

Sunday, 15 January 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

A Catholic, mission oriented church in Ethiopia . ADDIS ABABA , ETHIOPIA (BosNewsLife) — There was concern Sunday, January 15, over the health situation of an evangelist in Ethiopia , who was nearly killed by an angry mob in the latest of a series of Muslim militant attacks against the African nation’s evangelical Christians, a religious rights group said.

The Voice Of the Martyrs Canada said its sources have established that the evangelist, identified as Aman, was harassed by a group of Muslims when he returned this month from a church service in the town of Meki , 134 kilometers south of the capital Addis Ababa .

According to VOMC sources in Ethiopia , one member of the group began hitting Aman with a large stick and continued to pound on his body until people passing by intervened,” the group said in a statement to BosNewsLife.

Aman was taken to a hospital in nearby Shashemene, where he allegedly remained unconscious for two days. “At last report, Aman was still in intensive care,” added VOMC, which investigates persecution of Christians.

NO ISOLATED INCIDENT

It said the attack was not an isolated incident as Evangelicals in Ethiopia , who it claimed account for as much as twenty percent of the population, “face severe persecution from both side, particularly Pentecostal and charismatic believers.”

Last year in September 2005, a bus was stopped by Islamic militants who demanded that all Christians recite the Islamic creed, VOMC and other sources said. When one man refused, he was reportedly assassinated.

In addition, VOMC said, that youngsters who convert to Christianity are often “expelled from their homes and forced to live on the streets or work as house servants. Evangelical meetings are regularly broken up by mobs who beat and occasionally kill, those gathered.”

YOUNG PEOPLE KILLED

“Young people have been killed for their faith in Christ. When VOM personnel spoke with the younger brother of one such student, the boy and his friends readily testified that they were prepared to pay any cost to follow Christ.”

Church buildings and homes of evangelicals have been destroyed in recent years, human rights watchers say. In July 2002, the Merawi Full Gospel Church began fencing in their new property against them, when a mob reportedly attacked and killed the pastor.

“Led by an Orthodox priest, they tore down the fence and then attacked the pastor, Brother Dantew, with an axe. Leaving him injured, they posted guards to prevent anyone from helping him until the next morning, when he died on the way to the hospital,” said VOMC which has close ties with Christians in the region.

RELIGIOUS SPLIT

Adding to the tensions are indications that Ethiopia is split religiously. About half of Ethiopia ‘s over 73-million people are Muslims, while roughly 40 percent are Ethiopian Orthodox, according to several statistics.

Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, a military regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Ethiopia held its first multiparty elections in 1995, but the country soon plunged into a two and a half year border war with Eritrea . Although it ended with a peace treaty in December 2000, final demarcation of the boundary is currently on hold due to Ethiopian objections. There are international concerns over possible renewed bloodshed in the region.