NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Eight children from four families have taken refuge with Christians in eastern Uganda after their parents beat and disowned them for leaving Islam or animism, sources said.n
In another village in eastern Uganda, a high school student is recovering from a serious head injury inflicted by the Muslim father of a young woman he led to Christ, area residents said.
The eight children in Busalamu village, Bukanga Sub-County, Luuka District came to Christ after visits from pastor Brian Mukisa, 29, who began Power Gates Church earlier this year as people put their faith in Jesus Christ. The new-found faith of the children, ages 9 to 16, angered their parents, who beat them in an effort to deter them from sneaking to worship services, and on June 29 the young ones took refuge at the church building, area sources said.
The pastor on June 15 had moved the worship site 10 kilometers (six miles) away to a temporary structure, providing the children transport to services, after the angry parents led by a local mosque leader destroyed the church’s initial, rented building on May 25, sources said.
The church lost chairs, tables and musical instruments when Muslims led by Bavakuno Ibra, Kalemba Farouk and the mosque leader, identified only as 48-year-old Imam Jengo, destroyed the first building.
“Your church activities will not be tolerated in this area,” one of them told the pastor, he said. “If you do not leave our village, then we shall soon come for your life.”
Pastor Mukisa had made a partial payment on land for a church building in the village when the Muslim parents wrested control of it by offering a higher price to the seller, also a Muslim, sources said. The seller returned Pastor Mukisa’s partial payment to him.
The children, whose names are withheld for security reasons, are 9, 11, 13 and 14, and there are two 15-year-olds and two 16-year-olds. Some of them have yet to fully recover from injuries sustained in the beatings and do not have funds for medical care, the pastor said. Disowned by their parents, they are staying with various church members but lack fees for attending school.
“The parents have totally disowned them as infidels,” Pastor Mukisa said. “They need prayers to come to terms with the separation from parents for choosing Christ.”
The burden on the small church is heavy, and he asked for prayer for the church.
“Busalamu is a Muslim stronghold, and any church presence here will meet with strong resistance,” he said. “We are worshipping in a temporary church structure, and we also appeal for financial assistance in assisting both the persecuted young children and our young upcoming church.”
Wounded High School Student
In Iganga District, a 20-year-old high school student is still suffering throbbing pain after the father of a young woman he led to Christ threw a metal object at his head.
Waiswa Sowedi, who secretly put his faith in Christ two years ago, led 18-year-old Sera Muzamiru to faith in Christ earlier this year in Nabidongha village, Nakigo Sub-County. In early June, Sowedi was on his way back from a church service when he decided to check on Muzamiru. He found her father, 40-year-old Makanika Muzamiru, beating her for befriending Sowedi, whom he called a pagan and an enemy of Islam.
“I tried to persuade her father to stop beating his daughter and explained to him that my intention of passing by his home was to assist her on educational issues,” Sowedi told Morning Star News. “He could not listen to this, and instead he became more furious and threw a sharp metallic object right at my forehead that penetrated very deep.”
The young woman’s father told Sowedi, “I would rather kill you than let you mislead my daughter to a wrong faith,” he said.
Sowedi was rushed to Iganga Main Hospital, where doctors declined to tend to the injury because of its severity, as the object was still lodged in his head. He was transferred to a hospital in Mulago, where he spent a week under various treatments before the removal of the object. Doctors operated the second week after he regained some consciousness, and he was put on drugs costing the equivalent of $10 per day, which he said was more than he can afford.
After his release from the hospital, Sowedi was unable to return to his Muslim parents’ home as his father forbade him to live there, and Sowedi lacked funds to return to school. He has taken shelter with a relative, and Muzamiru also has taken refuge away from her home.
Sowedi’s father, 45-year-old Muhamood Kayaga, suspected his Muslim wife might have known about their son’s conversion and took a second wife as a kind of contingency for himself and a reproach of his original wife, sources said. Kayaga and Makanika Muzamiru are devoted Muslims from Mohamood Mosque Nakavule, led by an imam identified only as Sheik Mayaye. The Muslim fathers have informed the local council chairperson, Muhamood Fundi, that a local church (undisclosed for security reasons) was influencing their children to change the religion, sources said.
Both Sowedi and Sera Muzamiru said they are in serious crises, with Sowedi still in pain from the head injury, medication farther out of reach and prospects for continuing his education unknown.
About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.
© 2016 Morning Star News.Reprinted with permission.
An Islamist group in Indonesia has, in front of a local police commander, sealed off a brand new church, torn down its sign and demanded that the local mayor cancel its permit. The Santa Clara Church in Bekasi, a heavily-populated commuter city to the east of the capital, Jakarta, only opened on 7 March.
The Islamic Forum Community (FUI) and other Islamist organisations have been protesting since the church obtained its permit in July 2015, claiming its leaders had used false identity cards to get it.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has started an appeal on the church’s behalf, and asked for supporters to send letters to ten top Indonesian leaders, including the President. The AHRC added that it will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The AHRC noted that local law enforcement agencies failed to intervene on the church’s behalf, leaving the congregants in “fear and uncertainty”.
The FUI complained that the church had been built in a community where the majority are Muslims and where Islamic boarding schools also exist. However, the Bekasi mayor refused to annul the church’s permit, saying it had fulfilled all the legal requirements necessary for construction. Indonesia’s Minister of Religion supported the mayor’s decision.
“Despite this, law enforcement agencies have failed to protect the Santa Clara Church congregants; in fact, it seems the agencies have no will or policy to enforce the law against vigilantes. As a result, the church congregation lives under pressure and intimidation,” wrote the AHRC in its letter of appeal.
The AHRC called upon the local police to “take a strong stance” against the FUI and “ensure that the government guarantees protection to the Santa Clara congregation to practise their religion”.
“Furthermore, the government should revise the law on the establishment of worship places without any discrimination among the various religions and beliefs that exist in Indonesia,” the letter concluded.
“In the last decade, the existence of intolerant vigilante groups has become a serious problem in Indonesia,” wrote the AHRC in its letter to supporters. “More importantly, the country’s law enforcement does not seem to be willing or committed to enforcing the law against such groups, despite their actions being in violation of the right to freedom of religion and belief guaranteed in the 1945 Indonesian Constitution. Article 29, Paragraph 2 requires the State to ‘ensure the freedom of every citizen to choose their own religion and to worship according to their religion and belief itself’.”
Indonesia is No. 43 on the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
The current events in Bekasi are all too familiar for Christians in the Jakarta area.
In March 2013, the Batak Protestant Church, also in Bekasi, was torn down almost immediately after it had been built. Again, protesting Muslims claimed the church’s leaders had falsified signatures to obtain a permit.
Meanwhile, about 70 kilometres away in Bogor – also a commuter city outside Jakarta – another church continues to hold open-air Sunday morning services next to a main road, because its city mayor is afraid to insist that a Supreme Court order is carried out.
In April 2010, Bogor’s Taman Yasmin Indonesia Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) was sealed and padlocked by order of the mayor of Bogor and the city government. According to a national paper, he claimed that the previous sub-village head had falsified community signatures and that the church brought trouble with local Muslim neighbours. Later he said that the church should not be built on a street with an Islamic name.
In December 2010, the Indonesian Supreme Court affirmed the church’s constitutional right to freedom of worship; however the mayor refused to reopen the church. The Indonesian Ombudsman’s Office also urged the Bogor city administration to withdraw its later 2011 decree annulling the church’s construction permit.
GKI Yasmin’s congregation has resorted to conducting services on the pavement in front of their former church for more than two years. Then they moved to a monthly service in front of the Presidential Palace, alternating with services in other premises. In September last year, the church held its hundredth service outside the palace. A church leader told World Watch Monitor that number has now increased to 115 services.
©2016 World Watch Monitor reprinted with permission.