Published: 14:30 GMT Daylight Time - Monday 25 July 2011
Eritrean Christian escapes Saudi execution, facing danger at home
An Eritrean Christian who was threatened with execution in Saudi Arabia for sharing his faith with Muslims will now be deported to his homeland, where he may face prison, torture and even death.
A dangerous fate may await
Eyob Mussie in Eritrea
Eyob Mussie was arrested at a mosque in Saudi’s second largest city, Jeddah, on 12 February. He had gone there to meet and talk with local Muslims after speaking about Christianity at the Eritrean Embassy for three days.
He was threatened with the death penalty for allegedly preaching to Muslims. But now the Saudi authorities have decided to deport him to Eritrea, which can be regarded as one of the worst places in the world to be a Christian. So although he has been given a temporary reprieve from execution, further danger awaits him in Eritrea. He is being held in a deportation centre while arrangements are made for his return.
Mussie has shown great faith and courage during his ordeal. He told Barnabas Fund in April:
May the purpose of God be done in my life... I’m trusting in the grace of God, which is enabling me to stand bold in a very traumatic situation.
He said that he had felt compelled to share his faith despite the danger, and that he is prepared to die for his faith in Christ.
Christians in Eritrea
Thousands of Christians are believed to be imprisoned without trial in horrendous conditions in Eritrea; many are held in metal shipping containers or underground prisons, where they suffer extreme temperatures, malnutrition, torture and beatings. Those who fall ill may have medical treatment withheld unless they agree to renounce their faith. Some die in custody.
Christians are viewed by the Eritrean authorities as a threat to national unity because they give their ultimate allegiance to God and not to the state. Towards the end of last year a local governor ordered an “end of year purge” against Christians; a spate of detentions ensued.
Among the most recent include a group of 26 college students from Mai-Nefhi College, who were arrested on 2 June, and 64 believers detained in the village of Adi Abeyto near Asmara, in May.