American evangelist leads rare event in communist Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam — More than 10,000 Vietnamese have filled up a stadium in a rare Christian evangelistic event led by the Rev. Franklin Graham, who says he wants the communist government to consider Christians its best citizens.

Despite sweeping economic reforms over the past 30 years that made Vietnam one of the fasting growing countries in the region, the ruling Communist Party maintains strict control over all aspects of society, from media to religions. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 100 Vietnamese are in prison for peaceful religious and political activities.

Graham told The Associated Press that the prayer rally in Hanoi on Friday was unprecedented in size for Vietnam. He says he doesn’t want to do anything that would embarrass the government or talk politics.

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