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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alleged Qur'an desecration lands Ethiopian Christian three years in prison

ICC

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 19, a court in Moyale, Ethiopia sentenced a Christian man to three years in prison after his Muslim friends accused him of writing "Jesus is Lord' on the Qur'an.

Woldegeorgis, a member of full gospel church, was arrested in early July after Muslims severely beat him for his alleged crime.

During the trial, the public prosecutor failed to produce the copy of the Qur'an on which Woldegeorgis allegedly wrote the statement. The court ruled that since the defendant embroidered and hung similar statements on the walls of his home, they believed he could also write it on the Qur'an.

The accusers of Woldegeorgis were his own friends who converted from Christianity to Islam. He refused to convert to Islam despite their continued pressure.

It took Ethiopian officials more than three months to charge Woldegeorgis with the alleged crime. The Ethiopian constitution states that suspects should be brought before justice within 48 hours of their arrest. Lieutenant Ibrahim Abdi, one of the leaders of the police station where Woldegeorgis was kept, told ICC that Woldegeorgis was guilty of inciting religious conflict between Muslims and Christians. When ICC told him that it is up to court to decide his guilt, the Lieutenant hung up the phone. ICC also contacted the Ethiopian embassy in Washington DC for explanation, but received none.

A church leader, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons, told ICC, "In my ministry of 20 years, I have not seen such blatant miscarriage of justice. This is a clear case of Islamic discrimination of Christian minorities in the city. We live in an Islamic stronghold. Please pray for us."

ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, "The decision by the Ethiopian court to imprison Woldegeorgis for three years without any evidence of wrong doing is both outrageous and illegal. We urge Ethiopian officials to show their commitment to the rule of law by releasing Woldegeorgis and bringing the individuals who assaulted him to justice."

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