United Arab Emirates

Christian Minister Reprieved

8 May 2003

Rev Fernando Alconga has been found guilty of “Abusing Islam, and Christian 
missionary activity”, but has been given a suspended sentence.

Fernando Piedad Alconga, a Filipino Christian serving in the United Arab 
Emirates, was arrested for distributing Christian literature on 12 November 
2002.  After being held in prison for over a month he was released on bail.  His 
first court hearing was on Sunday 16 February and the witness, an Egyptian to 
whom he had given the literature, testified that he was not pressured by Rev 
Alconga in any way. Subsequently a report was commissioned to answer the 
question “Do the materials given by Rev Alconga to an Egyptian man in November 
2002 defame Islam or not?” At his final hearing on Sunday 27 April Middle East 
Concern reports that the judge found him guilty of “Abusing Islam, and Christian 
missionary activity”, but has suspended the sentence for three years.

Traditional Islamic law holds that a Muslim who converts to another faith is 
committing a terrible crime against Islam and should be put to death.  As a 
result, most Islamic countries are very severe in restricting anything that 
could be construed as mission, evangelism or promoting the Christian faith to 
Muslims.  This stands even in states like the UAE, widely considered one of the 
most moderate Muslim countries, and even when Christians simply live out their 
faith in an open and sensitive way and do not engage in anything that could be 
considered as aggressive proselytism. Rev Fernando Alconga always made it clear 
that he was offering Christian material and asked for the recipient’s consent.

Praise God that the sole witness in the case testified truthfully and that the 
legal process proceeded as well as his lawyer could have wished.

Pray that the prosecution do not appeal against this decision.

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