Mob Destroys Churches When Police Intervene
Washington, D.C. (October 17, 2012) – International Christian Concern has learned that several churches were burned down in Tanzania due to an incident in which a Quran was urinated on by a Christian boy.
On October 10, a Muslim boy met with a Christian boy in the village of Mbagala, about 12 miles from the city center of Dar es Salaam. He told the Christian boy that if someone urinates on the Quran they will either turn into a snake or a rat. “The Christian boy got interested with this kind of scenario and without giving [it] a second thought he urinated on the Quran,” said Bishop Fabian Obeid, the chairman of the Pastor’s Fellowship in Zanzibar.
When the Muslim boy told his parents, they reported the matter to a nearby mosque. On October 12, a mob formed at a mosque and planned to kill the boy. Police were alerted and took the boy to Chamanzi police station for protection.
When the mob discovered that the boy was being protected by the police, they rioted and burned down three churches: the Seven Day Church (SDA), the Anglican Church and the Assemblies of God Church. Other property belonging to the members of these churches was also damaged in the violence. The riot erupted around midday and continued until around 8 p.m. The damage caused by the riot is estimated to cost $31,000, said Pastor Lucian Mgaywa.
On Saturday October 13, the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania Church (EAGT) was pulled down during the night. “A flag belonging to the Uamisho group was raised at the scene of the incident,” said Bishop Fabian Obeid, Chaiman of Pastors’ Fellowship in Zanzibar.
Police have arrested over 120 members of UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation), an Islamic separatist group, and suspect they had a hand starting the riot that burned down the churches. Tensions in the area remain high. “There is a lot of tension in Mbagala, and the churches are in great fear from Uamisho separatist Islamist group fearing riots can erupt again,” said Pastor Lucian Mgaywa.
ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, said, “Although Tanzania has a long history of religious tolerance, incidents of Christian persecution in Tanzania and other parts of East Africa are on the rise. Extremist groups like al-Shabaab and Uamisho are taking root throughout East Africa’s coastal regions and are creating tension between Christian and Muslims communities. Often incidents like this are used by these groups to promote religious intolerance by fostering violence in communities that have traditionally coexisted peacefully in the past.”
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