"Severe Persecution" for Christians in Western Ethiopia; Believer Crucified

Monday, August 14, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (BosNewsLife) -- Christians in Muslim-dominated regions of Ethiopia faced another tense Sunday, August 13, amid what Christian investigators describe as "severe but under-reported persecution," including the crucifixion of one Christian believer.

Human rights group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) said its workers have learned that the situation is especially serious in the country's Western regions of Bambesi and Tongo near the Sudanese border.

Among recent incidents, VOMC mentioned that last month, July 5, a convert from Islam, identified as Shek Hamed Adem, was severely beaten and hanged on a cross. "While beating him, the crowd told him, "Jesus was hanged on a cross and beaten and as his follower you also deserve the same punishment," VOMC said.

Later, July 20, "hundreds of Muslims occupied the compound of a Christian woman and forcibly erected a mosque on her property. The building was erected as part of a plan to build a mosque every two kilometers (1.2 miles)," the group added.


Earlier on June 28, the home of an evangelist, identified as Tareku from the village of Begge, was destroyed and the building where almost 70 new believers gathered for worship was burned down, VOMC said. He was believed to be still searching for a new building Sunday, August 13.

In addition in the last three months, "the harvest of over 35 Christians has been completely destroyed, creating severe hardship for the families of these subsistence farmers. VOMC was able to provide some funds for their needs," the group claimed.

There was no immediate independent confirmation of the reports, but VOMC is known to have investigators on the ground. "These are only a few of the incidents compiled by VOMC staff who met with many of the local believers last week," VOMC told BosNewsLife.


The organization admitted it had been difficult to collect reliable information. "This remote area is without modern means of communication requiring VOMC personnel to travel by foot for several days to collect these reports."

Christian investigators have linked the reported persecution to anger among Muslim militants over the apparent growth of Christian churches and the spread of Christianity in the area.

About 40 percent of Ethiopia's estimated 75 million people are Christians. Most believers are part of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, while evangelical Christians are in a minority. VOMC said it had urged supporters to pray for the reportedly persecuted Christians. Ethiopian officials have not yet commented on the latest developments. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos and reports from Ethiopia).

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