Yemen: Christians Arrested for Missionary Work and Apostasy

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 487 | Wed 16 Jul 2008

On 18 June Yemeni news source Sahwa Net reported that political
security forces in the west coast city of Hodaiha arrested seven
members of a 'missionary cell' and charged them with promoting
Christianity and distributing the Bible. One of those arrested,
Hadni Dohni, also stands accused of converting to Christianity.
Sahwa Net said the suspects were transferred to Sana'a, the state
capital, where they would be 'investigated' to determine 'who
supports them'. Religious liberty monitors are most concerned that
these believers are at grave risk of mistreatment, torture and

The arrests come hot on the heels of a media scare campaign
alleging that Islam is under threat in Yemen due to Christian
missionary activities. In October last year the Palestinian
newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi claimed that there had been 2000
conversions from Islam to Christianity in Yemen. The World Muslim
League appealed to Yemen's government to stem the tide of
conversions and al-Qaeda deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri recommended that
al-Qaeda in Yemen launch an 'Islamic media jihad' against the
'fiercest Crusader attack that the Islamic nation [has ever
known]'. In February 2008 the Yemen Post published an article
highlighting the research of Dr Abdul Qawi Al-Tab'ee who warned of
the growing organised Christian movement in Yemen and recommended
national vigilance against Christian missionaries and apostates
(those who leave Islam).

Yemen is one of the least evangelised countries and one of the
worst religious liberty violators. Christian proselytism is
illegal, as is apostasy from Islam. Yemeni authorities had boasted
that Yemen was free of Christians, adding that the 'few Christians'
who lived in south coast Aden were 'not of Yemeni root', most being
expatriates: Ethiopian and Asian workers, as well as some Somali
refugees and Westerners. The claims that large numbers of Muslims
are converting to Christianity has rattled Yemeni Muslims and
angered Islamists.

When the Somali refugee Mohammed Omer Haji was imprisoned for
apostasy in January 2000, he was threatened with death and severely
beaten for over two months as Yemeni security police tried to force
him to renounce his faith and return to Islam. Haji however refused
to renounce Christ and was sentenced to death for apostasy. But God
mercifully answered the prayers of many and after a massive
advocacy campaign the Yemeni government agreed to deport Haji to
New Zealand where along with his wife and young son he had been
offered sanctuary. However the geopolitics of the Middle East in
2000 was very different from those today. Orthodox, jihadist, pro-
Sharia Islam is ascendant and Iran is the regional hegemon now, not
the USA. Fortunately Christians can direct their advocacy to a
higher authority, the Highest Authority in heaven and earth. He
knows these prisoners by name, is with them by his Spirit and loves
each one enough to die for them.


* the seven Christians arrested in Hodaiha in June, especially for
Hadni Dohni who also stands accused of apostasy, a capital
offence in Islam; pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort, heal,
encourage, sustain and protect them.

* all Christians in Yemen, especially those engaged in leadership
and active Christian witness, that God will give them wisdom,
hope, boldness and power whilst shielding them from their
persecutors. 'Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked.'
(Psalm 64:2a ESV)

* God to raise up Yemeni voices of moderation, reason and
tolerance that he will use to turn back the tide of
Islamisation and Talibanisation.

* the news of these arrests to arouse curiosity and interest in
the gospel; may all gospel witness be used by the Holy Spirit to
great effect. 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the
power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . .'
(Romans 1:16 ESV)




Since October 2007 Islamic sources have been claiming large numbers
of Muslims are converting to Christianity in Yemen. The World
Muslim League has urged the Yemeni government to curb conversions
and al-Qaeda deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri has called for a 'media
jihad' in Yemen against missionaries and apostasy (leaving Islam).
In mid-June 2008 Yemeni authorities arrested what they described as
a 'missionary cell' of seven people, charging them with promoting
Christianity and distributing the Bible. One member, Hadni Dohni,
is also charged with converting to Christianity. The believers are
presently being 'investigated'. Religious liberty monitors believe
these Christians are at grave risk of beatings, torture and murder.
Please pray for these believers and that their arrests will not be
in vain but will arouse interest in the gospel. Pray for the Church
in Yemen.


* WEST PAPUA WATCH -- Another new WEA RLC weekly service, to help
awaken the conscience of the Church and the world to the plight of
the West Papuans. The covert genocide of a Christian people is
monitored through diverse sources. Click on


http://www.ea.org.au/ReligiousLiberty/Alerts.aspx [updated Fridays]

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RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.