Monday, March 7, 2005
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (BosNewsLife) -- Two American Southern Baptist missionaries held under house arrest in Dubai for distributing Bibles and Christian literature are expected to be released this weekend, BosNewsLife learned Thursday, March 3.
72-year old Vivian Gilmer, of Myrtle Beach, and 55-year old Marie Bush of Waxahachie, Texas, were reportedly detained in Dubai on February 21 after officials determined their activities amounted to "proselytizing" the Christian faith in a region where Islam is the 'official' religion.
After a week in prison they were apparently placed under house arrest, February 28. However "it appears that they will be home with their families by this weekend, although details will not be available until the end of the week," said their employer Tom Cox World Ministries in a statement.
The US-based organization stressed it was "working closely with authorities in Dubai to facilitate their return to the United States." It said that "Marie and Vivian are in very good spirits and have been treated well during their stay in Dubai," although their passports were reportedly confiscated and have not been returned.
Although Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates, has been promoting itself as a more modern, open minded location in the Middle East, Christian human rights watchdog Voice Of the Martyrs Canada suggested the women were prosecuted under tough religious laws.
"While Christians are permitted to practice their faith in their own homes and churches in Dubai, evangelism is illegal," it said.
A group of at least 11 other missionaries traveling with Bush and Gilmer in Dubai have been requested by the American Embassy to return to the United States, after the women were arrested, said the Myrtle Beach based The Sun News newspaper reported in its Internet edition.
There was no immediate independent confirmation of that report. The Sun News said news of the arrest spread throughout local Baptist churches and that prayer services were held last week. It was not clear how many Bibles and Christian publications have been distributed by the two women and their co-workers. (With reports from Dubai and the United States and Stefan J. Bos).