BABILE, Ethiopia (Open Doors USA) — Four teenage believers, three of them minors, served a one-month jail sentence after being convicted on charges of distributing Christian literature and “inciting religious violence.” The girls were reported to be “in good health” following their release from prison on Dec. 22. Gifti, 14; Mihiret, 14; Eden, 15; and Deborah, 18, served their sentences in a large prison in Gelemiso among adult criminals.
The Christian girls ordeal began when they were arrested for distributing a Christian book in the eastern Ethiopian town of Babile, not far from Harar. The book sets out to answer questions posed by a late South African Islamic scholar about the Christian faith.
Local Muslims claimed the book was an insult to Islam and, on September 19, carried out a retaliatory attack on the Protestant Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) in Babile.
Over the next two days, another church was attacked, and church leaders were threatened by a group of 20 Muslim youths who reportedly visited the house of the MKC leader with a warning to leave the area or risk losing his life and property. The four girls were subsequently arrested and charged with “inciting religious violence.”