02/05/2011, 00.00
ETHIOPIA-ISLAM

Islamic radicals attack Christians in Ethiopia and force them to convert

In the city of Besheno in the south of the country, the authorities prevent the construction of a place of prayer and a cemetery. Three evangelical leaders forced to leave the area. Another is in hospital after being attacked.

Addis Ababa (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Islamic fundamentalists of a city in southern Ethiopia, Muslim majority Besheno, are conducting a series of attacks against Christians in the area to force them to convert or to leave. Besheno is a city where the last census (2007) 93.84% of the population is Muslim, and Christians are 5.82% of the population.

Three leaders of the Christian community were forced to leave the city, and two Christians were forced to convert to Islam. All are part of a small group of evangelical Christians - about thirty - who live in Besheno.

In recent days, signs were posted on the doors of some Christians threatening them with death if they do not convert to Islam or leave the city. An evangelical preacher, Kassa Awan, is still hospitalized in serious condition after being attacked November 29, 2010 by a group of Muslims.

A few days later more than one hundred Muslims surrounded the car of some Christian leaders who were on their way to a peace meeting with Muslim leaders, both Christians Tesema Hirego and Niggusie Denano, were injured. On January 2, another Christian, Temesgen Peteros, was attacked with a knife after he testified in court on the attacks suffered by his fellow believers.

The Islamic authorities who govern the city refuse to protect the Christians, and in particular refuse to build a prayer centre and a cemetery. "We ask that our right to freedom of religion be respected. We can not live in our city because of this inhumane behaviour, "said one of the leaders forced to leave the city.

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