By BosNewsLife Africa Service

Faith in Jesus Christ was behind arrests, well-informed sources say.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (BosNewsLife)– An ex-Muslim who was detained in Ethiopia after refusing to abandon his faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam was expected to be released Saturday, January 14, following six months behind bars, rights activists involved in the told BosNewsLife.

Soka Araro was among three Christian men detained on what their supporters called trumped up charges of growing and distributing illegal substances.

Their arrest in the town of Shashemene, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, came amid reports of growing pressure on Christians with a Muslim-background to recant their faith.

Ethiopia’s government “has also limited freedom of expression, making it gradually more difficult for Christians in the Muslim-majority regions to worship openly,” said advocacy and aid group International Christian Concern (ICC), which closely monitored the case.

Besides Araro two other Christians, Nura Araro and Obsa Ogeta, were detained but later released. Araro was soon freed after his charges were dropped, while Obsa Ogeta was placed on bail “in October and later released and acquitted of the charges in January” added ICC.


The group said the men were released following negotiations between ICC’s local Ethiopia representative and prison officials.

It ends an ordeal that began with threats, their pastor recalled earlier. “Before their imprisonment, people sent messages to these guys, saying, ‘if you are not back to your [Islamic] faith, you will face our trap,'” the church leader said in published remarks.

“Its…widely known the imprisonment was religiously motivated. We know it to be an unconstitutional attack,” the pastor added, speaking on condition of anonymity, amid security concerns. Nura Araro said local Muslims “orchestrated” a trap with police of regional “Kebele district leaders, political officers and court judges as well.”

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, cautioned that while he was pleased the men have been freed amid an international campaign, concerns remain over the future. “By abusing legal institutions, radical Muslims have greatly neglected the rights of Christians across Ethiopia in recent years. We have seen case after case documenting the rights of Christians being ignored solely on the basis of religion.”

Thomas told BosNewslife that “When essential freedoms such as these are removed, as in the case of Araro and Ogeto, the international Christian community must stand up on their behalf.”



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