06/07/2019 Eritrea (International Christian Concern) – Thirty Christians were arrested on Monday, June 3, while praying at nondenominational churches in three different locations in Asmara, Eritrea. This news comes shortly after the arrest of 141 Christians in Asmara in early May. According to local reports, the arrested individuals will be freed only if they disavow their faith.
The current Eritrean government, only recognizes four religious affiliations, including Sunni Islam, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, the Catholic Church, and Orthodox Christianity, even though the constitution proclaims religious freedom. Consequently, religious minorities outside of these four groups face consistent opposition from government bodies.
Eritrean police officers are known to carry out raids on private homes where devotees of unrecognized religions, especially Pentecostal Christians, meet for community prayer. In this week’s raid, Pentecostal Christians were targeted while they prayed in their community churches. The condition of the jails these Christians are sent is most troubling. Eritrea is known for imprisoning dissidents in metal shipping containers in the heat of its desert climate.
In recent months, there were reportedly more clashes between even recognized religious groups and the authorities as the government seeks to increase control of religious activities. According to recent reports, “The authorities, in fact, demand the full control of all organizations of religious origin, such as private schools, medical clinics and orphanages”—all of which provide needed support to the Eritrean population.
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