Rwanda arrests US evangelist over public disorder

Rwanda authorities have arrested an American evangelist Gregg Schoof for holding an “illegal meeting in a public area.”

Schoof – who has worked in Rwanda since 2003 – was arrested alongside his son, after publicly airing his grievances over the closure of his church and radio station last year.

He was arrested minutes after arriving for the press conference he had called at a bar next to the national stadium in Kigali.

“Schoof was arrested for public disorder and handed over to us by police. He is being interrogated on an illegal public meeting he had in Remera Sector. He was arrested with his son,” Modeste Mbabazi, spokesperson of Rwanda Investigative Bureau told The East African.

On Sunday October 6, he issued a statement calling for the Press Conference on Monday at Frontline Bar from where he was arrested.

He had by then released a long statement on the wrongful closure of his church and bar quipping that the Rwandan government was “trying to send people to hell.”

“I did not come here to fight the government. I came to preach the gospel. I do not care about politics nor do I care about whom the president is or what party is in power,” he said.

In February last year, about 700 churches were closed down across Rwanda for “failing to comply with building regulations and for noise pollution.”

Mosques were also banned from using loudspeakers but they said they would appeal the decision.

Trouble started early last year when Mr Schoof’s radio station was suspended and later had its license revoked on grounds that its sermons were abusive to women and other religions.

In April last year, the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority said Schoof’s radio station failed to comply with the regulator’s sanctions taken after a controversial sermon aired on January 29, 2018.

In the sermon, a radio presenter and fellow evangelist, Nicolas Niyibikora, apparently referred to women as evil.

His church was closed last year alongside a thousand others for not complying with city guidelines on security, parking and noise pollution.

Mr Schoof lost case he had filed in a Kigali court over the closure of the radio station.

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