Over 30 Pentecostal Christians were reportedly recently arrested in the northeast African nation of Eritrea.
According to the BBC, more than two dozen Christians were praying in three locations around the nation’s capital when they were rounded up and taken into custody by security forces.
Reportedly, this is only one instance of a growing trend of persecution against nondenominational Christians in Eritrea.
On May 10, 141 Christians were arrested in the nation’s capital of Asmara after gathering for a meeting, persecution watchdog Open Doors USA reports.
Of the 141 arrested last month, 104 were women, 43 were men and 14 were minors.
According to the Christian Post, since the nation declared its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, only four religions are officially recognized by the Eritrea government: Orthodox Christianity, Sunni Islami, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea and the Catholic Church.
According to Catholic nonprofit news website Zenit, 50 percent of Eritrea’s population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea and 48 percent of the nation’s population subscribe to Sunni Islam. Outside of the four above mentioned religions and religious denominations, all other groups, Zenit reports, are considered “illegal.”
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, religious practices are so highly regulated by the Eritrean government that there is “little to no freedom of religion or belief for people outside the four officially recognized faith communities.”
According to the Christian Post, recognized religions are also suffering in Eritrea, as the government demands “full control of religious organizations” and their affiliated businesses including clinics, orphanages and schools, among other things.
Since 2004, the U.S. State Department has regarded Eritrea as a “country of particular concern” for its flagrant violations of religious freedom.
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