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Christians protest in London over Eritrea

ICC Note

Christians in UK are showing solidarity with their persecuted brothers and sisters in Eritrea .

By Dan Wooding

June 30, 2007 Eritrea (ANS) — A service was held recently in London , UK , to protest against the treatment of the head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

According to a story written by Martin Plaut, BBC Africa analyst, Patriarch Antonios is the head of two million Orthodox believers and is a high-profile prisoner of conscience.

“He was removed from his position earlier this year, after criticizing the Eritrean government for interference in church activities,” said Plaut in his story.

“Amnesty International says Eritrea displays one of the most extreme forms of religious persecution in the world.

“The meeting heard that this was only the latest example of religious repression.”

Plaut said that in 2002 a crackdown began against the Eritrean evangelical churches.

Health fears

“And now,” continued Plaut, “the patriarch of the Orthodox Church, to which most Eritrean Christians belong, has been removed from his post and imprisoned after objecting to Eritrean government attempts to stop a bible-reading group.”

The head of the British Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Seraphim, told the BBC he was very worried about his health.

“He’s 79. He is known to have diabetes. And he’s been kept in a darkened room in his residence and he complained on one occasion he was unable to even read his Bible.”

His story concluded, “ Eritrea has a history of considerable religious tolerance between its Muslim and Christian communities, but the government comes from a Marxist-Leninist tradition.

“The church says it believes quiet pressure has failed, and it will now take the issue of Patriarch Antonios to the British government.”