A British-South African hostage held hostage in Mali for six years has revealed he abandoned his Christian faith during his time in captivity.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his release last Monday, Stephen McGown (pictured, second from right) told reporters becoming a Muslim helped him cope with the ordeal.
He said: "Before the desert, I was a Christian. I entered [Islam] of my own accord. I see many good things in Islam. It requires a very good character, a very strict character."
The 42 year old was captured in the west African country's capital Timbuktu in 2011, along with two other men. A fourth was killed during the kidnapping.
Speaking in South Africa, Mr McGown also said he only found out after his release that his mother had died in May this year.
He described how he learned some Arabic during his time in captivity, and his captors offered him clothing, food and medication.
Islamic extremists in northern Mali have made significant sums of money during the last decade by kidnapping foreigners and holding them to ransom.
Mr McGown said he did not know whether a ransom was paid for his release. Mediators say the extremists initially demands ten million euros per captive.
A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference
In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.
Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.
For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.
Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.