Central African Republic church leader arrested

Originally published in Religion Today

Christians in Central African Republic have been shocked by the violent arrest on Tuesday of the president of the Evangelical Alliance of Central African Republic (CAR), Pastor Nicolas Grekoyame Gbangouon, Open Doors USA reports.

Sources, who cannot be named for security reasons, told Open Doors the arrest was ordered by the acting president Michiel Djotodia through the Attorney General. It is not clear where he is being held or what the conditions are, but Open Doors expects him to endure harsh treatment.

Local Christians say the arrest came as a result of a July 2013 interview the pastor did with a local publication called the Democrate, in which he blamed the government and key government officials for the continuing violence in the country. Pastor Nicolas in the interview compared current woes in CAR to those of the colonial and slave trade eras and refuted claims by some government officials and Islamic clergy that security has improved in recent weeks. Pastor Nicolas said civilians continue to suffer robbery, rape and murder at the hand of Seleka soldiers.

Sources told Open Doors that these events indicate that Christians in CAR now face open persecution. They expressed grave concern over information that Seleka soldiers have been distributing arms to Muslims living around the area of the capital city of Bangui. The sources told Open Doors that Christians remain determined to respond to these dangers in a biblical way, and asked Christians around the world to pray for them.

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