Ethiopia (MNN) — [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article fromOpen Doors USA about a group of Ethiopian youths who were persecuted for sharing Christ. You can find other ways Open Doors is supporting persecuted believers around the world by clicking here.]
When a group of 15 Christian Ethiopian youths decided to join an evangelistic outreach to another town, they never anticipated that the journey could result in physical assault, arrest, incarceration, and restrictive penalties imposed on the local Christian community.
But that is exactly what happened to the Christian youths who traveled 267 miles from the capital of Addis Ababa to visit the eastern Ethiopian town of Karamile in a Muslim-dominated area of Oromia state last week to fellowship with other youths and engage in outreach.
Trouble started on the first day of their visit when a group of local people opposed their evangelistic efforts and physically assaulted two of the female members of the group. Police quickly intervened, but instead of taking action against the aggressors, they arrested and jailed all 15 of the visiting youths. Thankfully, the officials released them later in the day, after local church leaders intervened on their behalf and advocated for their release.
However, the local church leaders learned the next day that this incident would have much broader impact. Town administrators and security officers summoned all church leaders in Karamile to a meeting and ordered them to stop all evangelistic activities outside of the church.
The officials said the Christians could no longer talk to anyone about religion outside church premises. They also said that although the Christians had the right to pray privately in their homes with their families, they were not allowed to invite other people to such prayers.
These regulations are in conflict with the constitution of Ethiopia, which guarantees freedom of religion and protects freedom of expression without interference.
Church leaders in Karamile have asked Christians in the West to pray for them:
For wisdom for the church leaders as they consider how to respond to these restrictions.
That the town administrators and security officers would come to see that these restrictions are in conflict with the constitution and rescind the restrictions.
For the youths who were attacked and jailed. Pray that these developments will not cause them to become fearful, but that they will remain steadfast in the faith.
For full recovery of the two women who received bruises in the attack.
Ethiopia is ranked #22 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us) of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians
ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian government has charged 20 people with trying to form an Islamic government under the umbrella of a terrorist group with activities centered in the capital Addis Ababa and other major regional cities.
According to the pro-government media outlet Radio Fana, the suspects brought to the federal high court on August 17 are Kedir Mohammed, Nezif Temam, Kahlid Mohammed, Fuad Abdulkadir, Ebrahim Kamil, Abdu Jebbar, Hussein Ahmed, Hamid Muhammed, Tewfik Misbah, Usman Abdu, Mohammed Nuri, Abdulhafiz Shifa, Darsema Sori, Fistum Cherinet, Haron Hyredin, Shehabuyin Nuredin, Aytel Kubera, Hashim Abdela Mujib Amino and Mohammed Kemal.
According to the prosecutor general, the suspects had publicly lobbied through fliers and stickers for their extremist ideology in the capital city and in Jimma, a southwestern Ethiopian city with a large Muslim population. They’re also accused of inciting extremist ideology in other southern cities with large Muslim populations such as Werabe and Welkite.
Demonstrators held joint Christian and Muslim prayers on April 22, 2015 at Grand Massquel square in Addis Ababa to protest against the purported killing of around 30 of their countrymen by Daesh militants in Libya.
The charge sheet against them also read that they planned to overthrow the government by force and replace it with an Islamic government ruled by Shariah Law.
The charges against the 20 were another sign of growing friction between the Ethiopian government and a section of the Muslim community.
On July 6, the Federal High Court of Ethiopia sentenced 18 Muslim activists to lengthy prison terms of between seven and seventeen years each on terrorism charges.
The dispute between the government and some Muslims was mainly sparked by what some Muslims considered to be the Ethiopian government’s imposition on them of a “heterodox, apolitical, minority” Islamic sect called “Ahbash” through what they deemed to be “unrepresentative,” “Ethiopian Islamic Supreme Affairs Councils”(Meijils).
The Ethiopian government denies the charge and instead accuses “minority elements” of the Muslim community of trying to promote extremist ideology. An underground movement called “Dimsatchin Yitsema” (let our voices be heard) has been broadcasting such ideology from a radio station abroad.
Muslims constitute about a third of Ethiopia’s 94 million plus population, according to the latest census.