By Worthy News Africa Service
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (Worthy News)-- There was concern Friday, February 19, that Ethiopian authorities would press "terrorism" charges against a Christian convert who has been detained since May for distributing Bibles and abandoning Islam, well-informed Christians said.
Bashir Musa Ahmed, 39, was was reportedly arrested and jailed May 23, 2009 for "malicious" distribution of Bibles in Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali Region Zone Five, a predominantly Muslim area in eastern Ethiopia.
Christian observers with close knowledge about his situation said however he has not been formally charged.
Ethiopian law protects religious freedom, but officials have suggested that the Bibles, with covers that resemble Islam's book the Koran, may violate copyright legislation and may have been "disrespectful" to Islam.
Rights activists say the contested version of the Bible has long been available in Ethiopia and is used by Somali Christians inside and outside of the country.
Local Christians said however that the 'copyright' legislation has been misused to harass minority Christians.
Ahmed's relatives and tribe reportedly encouraged his detention to stop him from spreading Christianity in the region.
With apparently no clear evidence, police have now accused Bashir of terrorism, allowing them to hold him longer behind bars, church groups said. (With Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).