Tazania: Youth leader hacked to death. Christians threatened

December 14, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Christian leaders are being targeted in violent attacks

Christian leaders are being targeted in violent attacks

Tanzania, December 09, 2013: Christian leaders in Tanzania are in mounting danger and also facing opposition from the authorities; a youth worker was hacked to death in a brutal machete attack, while several pastors are facing false criminal charges.

Eliya Meshack was killed while leading an overnight prayer session in Gilgal Christian Worship Centre in the Ilemela district of Mwanza province on 22 October. He died on the spot, while two other Christians were seriously injured.

Eliya’s wife Marry said that they had been receiving threats for more than six months, which they reported to the police, but no action was taken. She has been left to raise their two children, Prosper (9) and Prisca, who is just nine months-old, alone.

It is not known who carried out the attack, but church leaders suspect the involvement of Uamsho (“the awakening”), an Islamic separatist group that is pushing for the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar to become an independent state. The group has been responsible for numerous church attacks.

A number of church leaders have been killed or injured in violent attacks this year. Joseph Anselmo Mwagambwa had acid thrown at him in Zanzibar on 13 September, which caused burns to his face and shoulders; Pastor Robert Ngai suffered serious cuts to his hands and arms when he was attacked with machetes in his home in Geita on 2 June; Pastor Mathayo Kachila (45) was beheaded in Buseresere on 11 February; six days later, Evarist Mushi was shot dead outside his church in Zanzibar.

Christians are under mounting threat in Tanzania as Islamism grows in strength. Recruitment videos for al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group based in Somalia, are being shown in some of the country’s mosques. One features prominent sheikhs urging Muslims to kill the leaders of “kafiris” (infidels).

As well as the upsurge in violence, Christian leaders are also being subjected to harassment by the authorities; 52 false cases have been brought against pastors.

One pastor has faced repeat accusations of making derogatory remarks about Islam and Muhammad, under the charge of “uttering words with intent to wound religious feelings”. He was targeted after two Muslims converted to Christianity.

Another pastor has been jailed on the false charge of having baptised an underage convert.

– barnabas team

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