The spread of Islamic Extremism is treatening Christians living in Tanzania. Churches have been burned down, the lives of Christians have been threatened and a woman has been falsely imprisoned. How long until persectuion becomes the norm?
10/25/2012 Tanzania (ANS) - Tanzania's population is 31 percent Muslim and 54 percent Christian, although church attendance is only about eight percent (Operation World 7th Edition). According to the Catholic Bishop of Kondoa Diocese, Bernadin Mfumbusa, Islamisation is advancing. Since the mid-1980s, itinerant preachers from Saudi Arabia and the Sudan have been entering the country and spreading intolerant, fundamentalist Islam. Consequently, Muslims are becoming more assertive with their political demands and more aggressive with their verbal attacks. Demands are growing louder for Sharia Law and Kadhi (Islamic) Courts, for Fridays to be public holidays and for Tanzania to join the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC). Bishop Mfumbusa recently told the Catholic Charity, Aid to the Church in Need, that there has been a marked increase in veiled women and Qur'anic schools (madrassas), adding, 'In the church schools, which are also attended by Muslim children, we must be very sensitive and cautious to avoid any undesirable incidents.'
As in Kenya, US-mandated anti-terror laws enacted post 9/11 have fuelled division along religious lines. Christians are generally supportive and Muslims strongly object, claiming the laws purposely target them. In the lead-up to the 2005 elections the Christian-dominated Revolutionary Party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), successfully wooed the Muslim vote by promising to establish Kadhi (Islamic) courts. However, after winning the election CCM shelved its promise. Religion has since come to dominate Tanzanian politics. Tensions are rising.
On 10 October Zakaria Hamisis Mbonde (12) was walking home from Qur'anic school, carrying his Qur'an, when he came across his Christian friend, Emmanuel Mwinuka (13). When Emmanuel asked Zakaria if he could see his Qur'an, Zakaria warned him that the Qur'an had the power to turn anyone who defiled it into a dog or a snake. An argument ensued, prompting Emmanuel to disprove Zakaria's claim by urinating on his Qur'an. Naturally Zakaria's parents wanted to know what had happened to his Qur'an. As word spread through the Mbagala Ward of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, tensions soared.
But is it a crime in Tanzania to blaspheme, defile a Qur'an or hurt a Muslim's feelings? I don't think so! Yet on 23 July 2012 a judge in the coastal town of Bagamoyo sentenced Christian teen Eva Abdullah (17) to two years in prison after Islamic fundamentalists falsely accused her of defiling the Qur'an. Eva, who had been driven from her home after converting to Christianity, had been resisting pressure from Islamic fundamentalists to return to Islam. After falsely accusing her, these radicals allegedly bribed the judge to punish Eva.