NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in Uganda beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service on Sept. 18, sources said.
Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons, in Eastern Uganda’s Budaka District.
“When I arrived home, my husband shouted at me as an ‘infidel,’ and then and there started hitting me with a metallic object,” Baluka told Morning Star News. “I fell down, only to find myself in a hospital bed.”
Neighbors said they arrived and rescued Baluka, who was bleeding from head and leg injuries as her husband continued to hit her.
“We found Baluka unconscious, and we were able to overpower the husband’s brutal attack,” a resident who requested anonymity told Morning Star News.
They took her to a Budaka District hospital, where she remained until Thursday (Sept. 22).
“I have become an enemy to my husband, and my parents will not receive me either just for attending the church,” she said. “I feel disowned and helpless.”
She had visited the undisclosed, area church with a female friend. The church pastor, whose name also is withheld for security reasons, said she has become a Christian.
“She was among those who were prayed for in the church service, and on Thursday she mentioned to me that the very Sunday when she was prayed for, she felt convicted in her heart that she was a sinful lady, and that immediately a heavy burden rolled away,” the pastor said. “She is now being discipled to be rooted in the Christian faith.”
Baluka has taken refuge at a site away from her home, he said, adding that she needs prayer for emotional and physical healing.
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 to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.
© 2016 Morning Star News. Reprinted with permission.
by Morning Star News/East Africa correspondent
NAIROBI, Kenya, (BP) — Muslim militants slaughtered 26 civilians in a predominantly Christian village in the Central African Republic on Friday (Sept. 16), the worst violence in the embattled country in months, sources said.
Rebels from the former Seleka group attacked the village of Ndomete, about 220 miles north of the capital city of Bangui, at 8 p.m. and went door-to-door killing Christians, a source in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo told Morning Star News.
Fighting between Seleka, officially disbanded in 2013, and Christian “anti-Balaka” militias has increased in the past year, but government and U.N. officials said Friday’s attack targeted civilians. Violence between Muslim and Christian militias hit nearby Kaga-Bandoro, where the Central African Republic’s U.N. peacekeeping mission reportedly quelled the violence over the weekend, but an area Christian leader cast doubt on the country’s ability to bring order.
“If the government is not going to beef up the security, then we are going to defend ourselves,” he said. “We shall not keep quiet as our brothers are dying.”
Hostility between Muslims and Christians worsened in 2013, when Seleka deposed then-President Francois Bozize and installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim. Djotodia announced the disbanding of Seleka in September 2013, but the rebels have since rampaged throughout the country, killing Christians and political enemies, leading to the formation of Christian militias to counter them.
Human Rights Watch has documented executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters. On May 28, 2014, rebels killed 11 people in a grenade and shooting attack at the Church of Fatima in Bangui.
In February former prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected president, bringing hope that political and religious conflict would subside, but rebel and militia fighters are still active outside the capital.
JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Young Muslim men stabbed a non-Muslim in Kaduna state on Tuesday (June 7) for failing to observe a day-time fast during the month-long Islamic celebration of Ramadan, according to local reports.
Francis Emmanuel Olokpo, who appears to identify as a Christian though his church affiliation was not immediately clear, sustained multiple wounds in the attack. At St. Gerard Hospital in Kaduna city, he told Vanguard newspaper today that he was recovering well.
“Nobody should worry over me,” he said, “I’m being taken care of very well, and by the grace of Christ, I shall leave here very soon.”
The 41-year-old carpenter said earlier this week that he had gone to a market to buy wood and returned to his workplace in Kakuri, where he was eating some food he had bought.
“As I was eating, about six Muslims came to ask me if I am a Muslim or a Christian, but I did not answer them,” he told journalists from his hospital bed this week. “They asked why I was not fasting, then I told them that I am not a Muslim. Before I know it, one of them slapped me. As I stood up, the rest came and surrounded me and started attacking me with knives.”
Olokpo said no one could come to his aid because of the dangerous cutlasses, knives and scissors they were using to attack him. He fell unconscious and didn’t know who brought him to the hospital, he said.
Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai visited him on Wednesday (June 8) at the hospital and later told reporters that his administration would not accept the use of force and coercion to compel others to embrace religious beliefs.
“Nigeria is a free country, and that means no imposition of faith or religious practices on anyone,” El-Rufai said. “We should not allow differences in faith to be a barrier to harmony or a cause for conflict. Nobody can impose a tenet of his faith on another person. The decision to observe any religious activity is the prerogative of the individual.”
El-Rufai directed police to investigate the attack and ensure that the assailants are arrested and prosecuted.
“The government will not allow anyone to get away with any crime using his or her faith as an excuse,” he said. The attack on Olokpo comes after the June 2 killing of a Christian woman by a Muslim mob in neighboring Kano state over an accusation of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.
One factor contributing to such attacks is an intolerant Wahhabi-Salafi Islam that has crept into Nigeria in recent years, according to a study released this week by advocacy group 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. The report says the Wahhabi tradition has filtered into northern Nigeria through the influence of Saudi Arabia and Islamic charities.
“This shift to Salafism helps explain why a country that has had both Muslims and Christians, sometimes living as neighbors within the same community for hundreds of years, has not experienced this level of violence in the past, why religious identity is hardening, and why at least some Nigerian Muslims are willing to employ violence against both Christians and fellow Muslims who are seen as morally culpable given their perceived detachment to ‘correct’ forms of practice,” the report states. Outside support and funding has contributed to a revival of this hard-line Islam within many Islamic communities in northern Nigeria, though to what extent remains unclear, the report states.
“This ongoing Islamic revival in northern Nigeria is manifested in a shift towards Salafist interpretations, which emphasize stricter implementation of sharia and more simplified and ‘pure’ practices of Islam,” the report states.
The Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, said the attacks on Christians this month are unacceptable.
“The ugly things we have seen in the last one week are ungodly and totally unacceptable,” Kukah told reporters. “Somebody goes out to buy food and you attack him and say, ‘Why are you not fasting?’ It is totally unacceptable. The culprits must be arrested, tried and punished. There is no other way you can end this impunity.”
Sunny Oibe, director of National Issues of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said in a press statement the attack on Olokpo shows an intolerance among Muslims that is becoming endemic in Nigeria.
“The attack on the carpenter for allegedly eating when Muslims were fasting goes to show the level of intolerance of some people, particularly some of our Muslims,” Oibe said. “Even if somebody refuses to fast, nobody has the right to embark on such animalistic behavior of attempting murder. The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria is asking Nigerian security agencies to ensure that this matter is not swept under the carpet.”
© 2016 Morning Star News. Reprinted with permission.
NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Muslims in a village in eastern Uganda last week killed Christians’ pigs and tore down their church building, sources said.
A Muslim mob demolished the building of the 450-member Nalugondo Church of Uganda building at about midnight on April 12, shouting, “We cannot live together with neighbors who are infidels. We have to fight for the cause of Allah,” according to area sources. Nalugondo village is near Bugade, Mayuge District, 93 miles east of Kampala.
Two days earlier, sources said, a group of Muslims slaughtered a church lay leader’s pigs, a key source of income. Singing praises to Allah and shouting, “Allah only is to be worshipped, and Muhammad is his prophet,” the group led by area Muslim Kambo Daudo killed Samuel Kijali’s pigs at 4 p.m. on April 10, as Kijali’s wife watched helplessly.
A few weeks before the slaughter, Kijali had received text messages on his phone saying that church members must stop raising pigs.
“Let this be known to your church members that pigs are extremely unholy and an abomination before Allah, very outrageous and shameful,” one text read. “They are haram [forbidden] and unlawful as our holy Quran does prohibit them.”
Muslims also sent a text message to church member Kamaala Yokosani – “We are soon coming for the heads of your pigs” – before killing eight of his pigs on April 5, sources said. Yokosani was elected chairman of the Bugade zone in May 2015, and then later he began raising pigs.
A Christian witness said a Muslim neighbour of Yokosani, 60-year-old Kupoota Amisi, went to his home with about 15 other Muslims.
“I saw Amisi with a group of people enter Kamaala’s farm with knives, only to hear the following day that his pigs had been killed,” the witness said.
About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. Muslims have come to outnumber Christians in Nalugondo village.
“It is quite difficult to resist these militant Muslims, because they have outnumbered us the Christians and are accusing us that we are defiling their faith,” Kijali said.
The church’s 450 members are now without shelter as the rainy season descends, sources said. Musical instruments, more than 500 plastic chairs and other property weredestroyed, a church leader said.
© 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.