Christians Remain Imprisoned in Brunei

Dozens interrogated as government investigates whether prayer program is a threat
Officers from Brunei's Internal Security Department (ISD) have questioned indigenous church leaders during the last few months about an organized prayer program authorities are concerned is a threat to the stability of the Southeast Asian Muslim sultanate.

"Everyone who is in any sort of leadership position in the indigenous church—youth, Sunday school, church council—has been called up for interrogation," said a source close to the situation.

"They were summoned to the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, and each person would be interrogated by about 15 officers from the ISD," the source said. "However, the officers seemed satisfied with their answers and, in fact, encouraged the indigenous believers to carry on in their good work."

Seven Christians were arrested in December and January for alleged "cult" activities, and materials describing a systemic prayer program for the country were reportedly discovered in possession of one of the believers. Since then, indigenous and non-indigenous Christians have been questioned by authorities, who fear evangelism among the country's predominately Muslim population could disturb religious harmony.

Christians involved in the prayer program have faced the most difficulty.

"They have had to explain the terminology that was used in the documents found and that it was not a program to overthrow the government," the source said.

A March 26 article in Malaysia's The Sun newspaper carried an Agence France Press report that accused the arrested Christians of "trying to spread Christianity in the sultanate." The article quoted an ISD officer as saying the Christians' activities were "aimed to deviate the belief of the Muslim population by deceptive means."

The Borneo Bulletin repeated on March 22 a Radio ...

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April
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