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ICC Note:

Christian girls rejoice in the midst of their persecution for sharing their faith in Babile, a town close to  Harar  city, Ethiopia.  The Harar area is historically Muslim with most of the local government officials and police belonging to the Muslim faith. Even though the action of these girls is not illegal under Ethiopian law, the majority of the population being Muslim allowed the judge to  ignore the law and hold the girls captive. Praise God for the girls unwavering faith and joy in their suffering. Also pray for them and their church as they continue to face danger and receive threat.  

10/11/2016 Ethiopia (World Watch Monitor) In Ethiopia, three teenage Christian girls have been arrested following the distribution of a Christian book in the town of Babile, about 550km east of the capital, Addis Ababa. Babile is close to the historic walled city of Harar, also known as the City of Saints, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Islamic cultural significance.

The three girls – Eden, 15, Gifti, 14, and Mihiret, 14, first appeared in court on 28 September – with an 18-year-old woman known to her friends as Deborah. Police asked for 14 days to further investigate the case, but the judge awarded six days. On 3 October, the girls appeared in court again; the judge awarded officials a further three days to take the girls to a nearby town for medical examinations to determine their exact ages (they don’t have official dates of birth, and the age at which Ethiopia deems someone should be tried in an adult court is 18).

The judge postponed the hearing to yesterday (10 October) without giving a reason; the case was then transferred to a higher court in Harar and their lawyers applied for bail.

When the girls came to court in Harar, the prosecutor reportedly asked for more time to finalise his charges, so the judge adjourned until Friday 14 October.

The case follows the distribution of a Christian book (in Ethiopia’s main Amharic language) by a local author, ‘Let’s speak the truth in love: Answers to questions by Ahmed Deedat’, that sets out to answer questions posed by the late South African Islamic scholar (and former head of the Islamic Propagation Centre International) about the Christian faith. Local Christians decided to distribute it following cross-cultural evangelism training.

Local Muslims said the book was an insult to Islam and on 19 September a group attacked the Protestant Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) in Babile, damaging its doors and windows. MKC is a member of the Mennonite World Conference.

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