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Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK

World: Africa

Congolese preacher arrested in Koran row

Upto 100,000 attend the Reverend Kutino's services in Kinshasa stadiums

An evangelical preacher in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been arrested after allegedly burning a copy of the Koran during a live television broadcast.

The authorities have also closed down the private Christian television station owned by the preacher, Kutino Fernando, following demands from the Muslim community.

Reports that Mr Kutino had set fire to a copy of the Koran sparked protests by thousands of Muslims who marched through the streets of the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.


[ image: The preacher says he burned notebooks and not the Koran]
The preacher says he burned notebooks and not the Koran
Mr Kutino denied burning a Koran and said it was a booklet of handwritten Muslim prayers which he had to destroy while converting a child from Islam to Christianity.

The ceremony took place in front of a packed congregation at the Army of Victory Church in Kinshasa.

Followers of the preacher said he was being held at Kinshasa's Makala prison.

Muslims are in the minority in the DR Congo, where almost half the population is Christian.

Reverend Kutino is married with four children.

His church which claims to have more than 60,000 members, holds regular monthly services in a stadium that accomodates 100,000 people.

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