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Rwanda deports US pastor over expired visa

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Rwanda deported the manager of Amazing Grace FM, US Pastor Gregory Ryan Schoof, who had tried to stay in the country illegally after his visa expired in July 2019.

The American Pastor was deported on Tuesday, 8 October 2019, after spending a night in police custody over protesting against the recent decision by the Government to shut down his radio station.

He was arrested and detained on Monday, 7 October 2019, after inviting journalists to an “illegal” press conference following the recent closure of his community radio by the Rwanda Regulatory Utility Agency (RURA), it said.

The Director General of Rwanda Directorate of Migration and Emigration, Regis Gatarayiha, confirmed the development, saying that the American Pastor was sent back home via the International airport.

“Yes, he has been deported back today, for breaching immigration laws.”” said Lieutenant Colonel Gatarayiha, adding that the visa for the American pastor came to expiration in late July 2019.

Pastor Schoof’s trouble with the authorities started when the American pastor dragged the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), a regulatory body, to court for recently suspending his radio station after it aired what the state considered as hate speech against women.

The Amazing Grace Radio proprietor was seeking a judicial review in a matter in which he challenged the indefinite suspension.

The decision by the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) to order the suspension of the station by relevant authorities comes after Amazing Grace FM aired a sermon by Pastor Nicholas Niyibikora describing women as “dangerous creatures of evil, going against God’s plans” on 29 January 2018.

Reportedly, the station’s senior management claimed it was unaware of the background of the preacher, who is believed to be on the run.

Following the incident, the Rwanda Media regulatory body resolved to write to the Rwanda Regulatory Utility Agency (RURA), seeking permission to shut down the station for at least three months as punishment.

Reports said that the same station has previously been warned after airing ‘provocative programmes’, and has had one of its shows “The Bible and Quran” banned for allegedly inciting hate against Muslims.

– APA

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