An Ethiopian police officer was arrested, dismissed and forced to move to another part of the country after he told colleagues about his Christian faith
The 25-year-old man, who grew up in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region as a member of the nearly 100 percent Muslim Somali tribe, became a Christian two years ago.
World Watch Monitor is using the pseudonym Adane to identify the man, whose true name is being withheld for security purposes.
A local source told World Watch Monitor that one of Adane’s colleagues in the Liyou police force, a local paramilitary group, recently filed a complaint against him with the Somali State Human Rights Office. He had been heard talking about his newly found Christian faith while in uniform.
The deputy chairman of the Human Rights Office, and ethnic Somali himself, was greatly surprised to discover that there actually was a Christian within the tribe, the local source said.
The human rights deputy advised Adane to return to Islam. Adane refused, claiming a constitutional right to religious freedom. He was then arrested.
Following intervention by the Human Rights Office-chairman, Adane was released, only to find he had been dismissed from the police force.
The chairman advised Adane to relocate to another area because he had made too many enemies locally, the local source said.
Christians in the Muslim-majority eastern Somali region can experience hostility from family and community because of their faith, and also can be vulnerable when ethnopolitical tension erupts.
A years-long ethnic conflict between Oromo and Somali people in eastern Ethiopia has displaced almost 3 million Ethiopians.
In violence that erupted in August last year, a number of Christians were killed and churches burned, as World Watch Monitor reported. Two months earlier, 20 Christians were killed in the Bale Goba area of Oromia, west of the Somali region.
Ethiopia is 28th on Open Doors International’s 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.