PRESS RELEASE – 29 April 2003
A Filipino pastor has been found guilty of “Abusing Islam and Christian Missionary Activity” in Dubai, UAE. He received a suspended sentenced of a year in prison, deportation and confiscation of seized materials except the Bible. The probabation period is three years.
This judgement follows a series of court appearances. The only witness against him, an Egyptian man to whom Rev. Alconga had given Christian literature in Arabic in November 2002, testified that he had willingly accepted the materials knowing what they were.
The court asked a panel of Islamic experts to evaluate the materials. Their judgement was that, according to Islam, the materials were acceptable for private use but not for distributing to non-Christians.
Rev. Fernando Alconga is an ordained minister of the Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines and is a pastor of the Redeemer and King Filipino Church of Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai under the sponsorship of the Evangelical Church in the United Arab Emirates (CEC).
The case began on 11th November 2002 when he handed a package of Christian materials in Arabic to an Egyptian man in a mall car park. The next day he was approached by two men who asked him for Christian materials in Arabic. Rev Alconga said that he had materials in other languages, Chinese, Russian, French and Indonesian, but not Arabic. He explained that he could get them materials if they wished to have some. At this point the men revealed that they were plain clothed policemen and arrested him. The Egyptian man had filed a complaint against him.
He was held in custody for a month before being released on bail on 17th December. Formal charges were presented on 24th December. The preliminary court hearing was held on the 19th January 2003, followed by short hearings approximately every two weeks on Sundays.
Whilst in detention Rev. Alconga was treated with respect but initially his requests for legal council and a translator were denied and he felt pressured to sign documents in Arabic, a language that he does not understand. Representations by his sponsor, CEC, secured him a lawyer to represent during the series of court hearings.
The Christian community in Dubai is grateful that this case is over and that Rev. Alconga is free to go about his regular activities.
Rev Alconga is married to Naomi and they have a son who completes his schooling in June. He plans to leave Dubai this summer to become minister of a church in the Philippines.
For further details please contact Middle East Concern: Email:
A photograph of Rev. Alconga is available upon request.
MEC is a co-operative effort by concerned Christians in the Middle East focusing on the need for Middle Eastern authorities to ensure the rights of all who choose to call themselves Christian