Sometimes the full story is not what we’d want it to be.
Last year, we learned that a 17-year-old Tanzanian woman, Eva Abdallah, had been accused of blasphemy for urinating on a Quran and sentenced to two years in prison. Tanzania, a Christian majority nation (54.07% Christian, according to Operation World) in East Africa, has not typically been a place where VOM has found persecution cases. But as Islamic influence has grown in the country, and as Sharia (Islamic) law has been applied, persecution in Tanzania has grown.
When we heard of Eva’s case, our staff began investigating. A new national contact talked with Christian leaders around the country, who reported that the accusation of blasphemy was false. However, one of our sister missions in another country wrote to us to say they believed Eva had done what she was accused of.
The reports conflicted, so we considered the facts carefully. Eva had converted from Islam to Christianity as a 12-year-old and had some Bible training. After being accused and arrested in January 2012, she wasn’t given her two-year sentence until July 2012. In her Muslim-majority city, it seemed that local Islamists were unfairly influencing the court against her. We decided to ask our readers to send encouraging letters to Evan in prison, and our contact helped arrange for legal representation for her.
Letters from around the world began to pour into the prison. Prison guards were required to review letters before passing them along to prisoners. Eva received the first few hundred, but eventually the task became too laborious for the guards, and instead of giving the letters to her they boxed them and held them until her release.
That day came sooner than expected. On Jan. 9, 2013, Tanzania’s highest court acquitted Eva of the blasphemy charges and she was immediately released.
We were anxious to hear her story, and sent a VOM worker to interview her as soon as possible.
Then the report came in a short email from our worker...
Dory P. has worked with VOM for six years. She grew up in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Between Dory, her husband and two-year-old son, they share five passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.