Seven Ethiopian Christians have been arrested and detained in the north-western town of Chagni on suspicion of praying against the government.
A local source told World Watch Monitor the seven men, members of the Meserete Kiristos church, were followed and overheard by a local militia group when they went up a mountain to pray. When the Christians prayed “against Satan’s power and kingdom” (a common choice of words in certain evangelical churches in Ethiopia), the group accused them of referring to the government.
The Christians have not been formally charged yet but they were refused bail at a court hearing on 2 January and remain in custody. It is not clear when their next court appearance will be.
Ethiopia is 29th on the newly released 2018 Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. The pressure on Christians there is adjudged to be “very high” because of religious and ethnic tensions, combined with political and civil unrest. Also, the government is growing more authoritarian and has restricted religious institutions.