Christians in Syria are celebrating after a Kurdish Christian headmaster was released by Islamist group Failaq Al-Sham on 1st March.
Radwan Muhammad, 40, had been detained for seven months. Failaq Al-Sham fighters, an Islamist group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, arrested him in his home accusing him of committing apostasy.
Christians in Syria are often persecuted by members of their own family as conversion from Islam is seen as bringing dishonour. Sometimes it is the families themselves who request that local officials monitor local Christian conversions.
When Mr Muhammad´s wife died, the Islamist group prevented the family from carrying out the customs of the region of washing and shrouding her body because she had previously converted from Islam to Christianity. Mr Muhammad had also reportedly refused to surrender his school building to them so they could turn it into an Islamic school.
In Islamic controlled areas, all public expressions of Christianity are banned with churches being ransacked or destroyed.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: "CSW welcomes the news of Mr Muhammad's release and we pray for his continued wellbeing and safety; however, he should not have been arrested in the first place. We urge the international community to press the Turkish authorities to ensure international humanitarian and human rights law are respected in areas under their control in northern Syria, to restrain the various Islamist Militia groups functioning under their command, and to immediately bring to an end all forms of violence and violations in the region."
Syria currently ranks 12th on the list of countries where Christians face most persecution.