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US pastor arrested in Rwanda for ‘illegal’ meeting

1

Rwandan police have arrested a controversial US pastor as he was about to conduct a news conference in the capital, Kigali.

Evangelist Gregg Schoof was arrested for holding an “illegal meeting with journalists”, police said.

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Mr Schoof had been due to criticise the Rwandan government for shutting down his radio station and his church.

The Amazing Grace radio station was banned last year after it broadcast a sermon that described women as “evil”.

Mr Schoof’s church was closed in February, among hundreds of others, for failing to comply with building regulations “and for noise pollution”.

In May, Mr Schoof lost an appeal against the government’s media regulator in which he had tried to reopen his radio station.

Gregg Schoof talks to reporters in Kigali
Gregg Schoof handed out a statement before police stepped in

The BBC’s Jean Claude Mwambutsa in Kigali said Mr Schoof had booked a venue for his press conference on Monday but the owners denied him access at the last minute.

As he stood outside talking to the media, police arrested him.

“We arrested Mr Schoof and handed him over to the Rwanda Investigative Bureau,” police spokesman John Bosco Kabera told AFP news agency.

“He was arrested for holding an illegal meeting with journalists in a public space. It is illegal to hold meetings in public spaces without authorisation.”Image captionGregg Schoof handed out a statement before police stepped in
In a press statement handed to the media before his detention, Mr Schoof said the Rwandan government had “taken a stand against God with its heathen practices”.

“Christian radio illegally closed, 7,000 churches illegally closed, condoms are promoted to children in schools which promotes filth,” the press release read.

He also criticised the teaching of evolution in schools and the easing of restrictions on abortion, adding: “Is this government trying to send people to hell?”

Mr Schoof has previously questioned the freedom of expression in Rwanda, our correspondent says.

His radio station was accused of “promoting division in the country” last year after it broadcast a sermon by a local pastor who said women were “dangerous creatures of evil, going against God’s plans”.

Mr Schoof and his family have been based in Rwanda since 2003, according to their website .

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Live Updates COVID-19 CASES
  • World 19,703,085
    World
    Confirmed: 19,703,085
    Active: 6,332,550
    Recovered: 12,643,510
    Death: 727,025
  • USA 5,120,955
    USA
    Confirmed: 5,120,955
    Active: 2,336,231
    Recovered: 2,620,147
    Death: 164,577
  • South Africa 545,476
    South Africa
    Confirmed: 545,476
    Active: 140,808
    Recovered: 394,759
    Death: 9,909
  • Nigeria 45,687
    Nigeria
    Confirmed: 45,687
    Active: 12,114
    Recovered: 32,637
    Death: 936
  • Kenya 25,837
    Kenya
    Confirmed: 25,837
    Active: 13,520
    Recovered: 11,899
    Death: 418
  • Australia 20,698
    Australia
    Confirmed: 20,698
    Active: 9,100
    Recovered: 11,320
    Death: 278
  • South Sudan 2,463
    South Sudan
    Confirmed: 2,463
    Active: 1,241
    Recovered: 1,175
    Death: 47
  • Uganda 1,267
    Uganda
    Confirmed: 1,267
    Active: 146
    Recovered: 1,115
    Death: 6
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