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ICC Note: If you are a skeptical person you may read the following article with some measure of disbelief or, you may think it is some kind of anti-Muslim propaganda. Unfortunately, we can assure you that this type of thing is very common in fundamentalist Muslim countries.

Muslims Kidnap, Force Christian Girls to Convert

By George Thomas
CBN News Sr. Reporter

CBN– STONETOWN, Zanzibar – Zanzibar is anchored in the Indian Ocean 50 miles off Africa ‘s east coast.
Zanzibar was once East Africa ‘s main slave-trading port. By the mid-1800’s, 50,000 slaves were bought and sold each year. The dealers sailed here from across Asia and the Middle East . They returned with their boats filled with men, women, and children. The practice was eventually outlawed.

But two centuries later, the brutal trade has taken on a new dimension. Young Christian girls are being abducted, forced to convert to Islam and, in some cases, shipped to parts of the Islamic world.

Flora Davidson knows how it feels to have a child disappear. “I looked everywhere for her, but I could not find her. Even the police gave up looking for her,” Flora said.

In July 2004, Flora’s 14-year-old Christian daughter Joyce was kidnapped by members of UAMSHO, a radical Muslim group on the island.

“I was told that from this day on, I would not be going back home to my family. You will become a Muslim,” Joyce said.

Her kidnapper was Mariam, a 45-year-old Muslim woman. Mariam refused to talk to CBN News on camera, but she insisted that Joyce had voluntarily become a Muslim.

Joyce: First, they told me to change my religion.

CBN News: Did you want to become a Muslim?

Joyce: No.

CBN News: Were you forced?

Joyce: Yes.

CBN News: So, for three days your mother was looking for you?

Joyce: Yes. I was forced to wear Islamic dresses that covered my entire body.

CBN News: So they wanted to conceal your identity?

Joyce: Yes, so that my mother could not know me {recognize} me.

And for a while, it worked — until local police and Joyce’s mother were tipped off that she had been shipped to the mainland city of Dar-es-salaam . Authorities found Joyce there and sent her on a boat back home.

“So I went with several police officers to the docks to find her,” Flora recalled. “We waited, but there was no sign of Joyce. Almost everyone was off the boat. The police even got tired of looking and left. But then suddenly, I saw this small girl.”

The small girl was completely veiled, so that at first glance her own mother did not recognize her. But then the woman saw something.

Flora said, “I noticed her legs and the way she walked, and immediately I knew that this was my daughter under that veil. I walked up to her and lifted her veil, and there she was! My daughter — I had found her!”

Yet it was only the beginning of her nightmare.

Joyce: One of the other kidnappers, Mohammed, told me that wherever I will go, they would find me, and that I would eventually come back to their side {faith}. I will remember him forever, what he did to me.

CBN News: They would track you do down anywhere anything?

Joyce: Yes.

Four days after she was rescued, Joyce was kidnapped again by the same group. This time, she landed in the hands of Sheikh Azzani Khalid Hamdan.

“We help educate the new converts and give them guidance,” Hamdan said, “on how to live as a good Muslim.”

Hamdan is a prominent radical Muslim who runs the group UAMSHO. He wants to turn Zanzibar into what Afghanistan used to look like under the Taliban. The kind of island where Sharia law — which includes punishments such as amputation, stoning, and beheading — would be the law of the land.

“Sharia law is the basis of all law. It allows us to render judgment based on the Koran against those who don’t follow the laws of Allah,” Hamdan explained.

Ninety-seven percent of Zanzibar ‘s population practices the Islamic faith. The remaining mix is a combination of Christian and Hindu. Hamdan is not satisfied. He wants everyone on the island to convert to Islam.

“We don’t kidnap the Christian children and force them to convert to Islam,” Hamdan insisted. “We only educate them on the ways of Islam once they have converted on their own.”

Peter Ninja disagrees. For years, Ninja has tracked the activities of Hamdan. Today, he runs a ministry trying to rescue children like Joyce.

“Their objective (UAMSHO) is to have as many good Muslims as possible who advocate the Sharia,” Ninja explained. “And in doing so they think they are doing a sacrifice to god, if they get as many of these children into their congregation.”

Several Christian girls have disappeared in recent years.

“Many Christian parents are worried that what happened to Joyce could happen to their children,” Flora said.

After being kidnapped for the second time, Joyce spent the next several weeks in an Islamic school. Day after day, she was forced to memorize the verses of the Koran in Arabic. They even made her change her name.

CBN News: What was your new name?

Joyce: Yoha Suleiman Mohammed.

It is illegal under Zanzibari law to convert a Christian girl under the age of 18. Flora said the authorities showed complete disregard for this law and even threatened her.

“I was warned that if I continue looking for my child they would arrest me,” Flora said. “In fact, I met some police officers who were Muslims and they said to me how happy they were that my daughter had become a Muslim. They don’t care about what is going on to the Christian children on this island. They want to see more children converted to Islam.”

In the meantime, Joyce’s kidnappers were preparing to smuggle her out of the country.

Joyce said, “They got a passport for her and wanted to ship her to Saudi Arabia .”

After Flora hounded the kidnappers for weeks, Joyce was finally released.

“My daughter’s childhood has been robbed. I cannot take back what has happened to her. I wish I could. But I thank God that I have my daughter back!” Flora said.

So far, no one has been charged with Joyce’s kidnapping. Hamdan is awaiting trial for his alleged role in a string of bombings against churches on the island.

Although Joyce is still on the road to an emotional and psychological recovery, she says she has hope.

CBN News: What makes you so strong?

Joyce: Jesus.

CBN News: What have you learned from this entire experience?

Joyce: It has helped me to be strong and forget the things that have happened to me.

CBN News: Have you forgiven those that did this to you?
Joyce: Yes. I know that if I don’t forgive them, God will not forgive me for leaving my Christian faith. But if I forgive them, God will forgive me.