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Christians under fire in Zanzibar: The Church of England Newspaper, March 17, 2013, p 6. March 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Persecution.
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The Bishop of Dar es Salaam’s home has come under assault, church leaders report.

Bishop Bill Atwood writes: “On 2:45 on Sunday morning, an armed gang attacked Archbishop Valentino [Mokiwa]’s home. Most bishops in that part of the world have watchmen either from the Massai or Hehe tribes who serve as guards. That was the case at Archbishop Valentino’s home as well. His Hehe watchman was captured by armed men who cut through the wire fence. The watchman valiantly fought back crying out. The men with guns cut him severely with machetes (called pandas there), but fled. Archbishop Valentino and his wife and children were inside the house. It is clear that great evil was intended.”

The 10 March 2013 attack follows last month’s murder of Catholic priest Evarist Mushi, who was shot and killed by two gunmen on the steps of his church. A second Catholic priest, Fr. Ambrose Mkenda suffered gunshot wounds in an attempt on his life on Christmas Day while moderate Muslim cleric Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Soraga was attacked with acid in November. Several churches have been burned over the past few weeks and on the mainland a Pentecostal minister was beheaded by Muslim extremists.

President Jakaya Kikwete’s move to invite foreign investigators to help local police thoroughly investigate the killings has been applauded by Zanzibar’s chief mufti, who has called on the government to actively investigate the targeting of religious leaders in Zanzibar, Tanzania’s Guardian newspaper reported on 4 March.  (March 4th).

Sheikh Thabit Noman Jongo said the terror attacks, believed to have been carried out by al Qaeda-linked groups, violate Islamic principles. “According to the Holy Koran, it is not allowed to take life of another person without any reason … experts should dig more to find the source of these acts,” he said.

Tanzania’s Daily News reported that leaflets calling for Christians to fight back were being distributed over the weekend. “We Christians of Zanzibar and people from the mainland living in the islands have decided to organise ourselves to retaliate,” the leaflet said, according to the Daily News. “It is high time we hit back.”

Bishop Michael Hafidh and Catholic Bishop Augustine Shao condemned the leaflets and their content, and urged Christians not to return evil for evil.

Note: This article has been corrected following its first publication to state the attack was on the home of Archbishop Mokiwa, not Bishop Hafidh.

Jihad fears for Zanzibar: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 5. June 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Persecution, Terrorism.
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Church leaders in Tanzania report the government has cracked down on Islamist extremists following two days of rioting in Zanzibar.

Members of the Islamist militant group Uamsho — the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation – took to the streets on 28-29 May 2012 in protest to the arrest their leaders by police.  Emails received from clergy in Zanzibar report that militants clashed with police and burned two Christian churches, shutting down Stone Town — the central business and tourist district of Zanzibar.

In a letter printed on 2 June 2012 in the Guardian of Dar es Salaam, three Zanzibari Christian leaders, Bishop Augustino Shayo of the Catholic Church, Bishop Michael Hafidh of the Anglican Church and Pentecostal Pastor Timothy Philemon of the Pentecostal Church, warned that Muslim fanatics were plotting to destroy all churches and church related buildings – schools, convents, cemeteries and heath centers on the island.  Members of their churches were receiving mobile text messages warning them to leave the island or face death.

The Indian Ocean archipelago of about 1 million people merged with mainland Tanganyika in 1964 to form the modern Tanzania, but Zanzibar retains its own president and parliament. Tanzania is set to introduce a new constitution in 2014, and Uamsho has urged voters to push for dissolution of the union with Tanganyika.

After meeting with government ministers on 31 May 2012, Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa read a statement to the press on behalf of the country’s Christian leaders.  “Our followers are living in fear, because of what happened to our churches some few days,” the Anglican archbishop said, adding “there is also displeasure, on the part [of Christians] over government inaction and failure to take those responsible to court,” he said.

“This is not the first time” he noted, stating that “25 churches have been burned so far in different parts of Zanzibar, and the government is quiet, despite the initiatives taken to report the incidents to the police. We don’t know who should bear the blame.”

The archbishop, who is also chairman of the Tanzanian council of churches, added that government inaction had created the “impression that these acts have government blessing.”

“The government is duty-bound to extensively trace them and bring them to book – in order to restore public trust and confidence in the government,” he said.

Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein responded on 1 June saying his government was “conducting a thorough assessment before taking necessary measures, including the possibility of compensation.”

Speaking to the press, Dr. Shein said the government had banned unauthorized religious meetings, assemblies and demonstrations as a threat to public order.  “We will not allow the peace and harmony created by the National Unity Government to be threatened by a few individuals who are using a religious umbrella” to shelter their political ambitions.

An Anglican clergyman who asked not to be named for fear of retribution from extremists told CEN the dispute appears to have died down. Zanzibar “is always fragile and relations between the ruling Muslims and religious minorities touchy,” he said.

“It doesn’t help for the media in general to exaggerate and sensationalize” as it “puts more pressure on the Christians” which “can really cause problems.”

The roots of the current dispute, he said were political.  Opposition leaders want an independent Zanzibar.   “They’re being particularly problematic during this time of constitutional review,” he clergyman said, adding that at present “Christian leaders are asking for the protections promised by the president” of Zanzibar.

Dr. Shein “has always been a public advocate for religious freedom and was very gracious in his speech last month at the consecration of the new Anglican bishop.”

However, the “situation generally is stable now everything is calm [with] things moving as usual” sources in Zanzibar report.  The government has intervened “and they are dealing accordingly with the Muslim group which caused the riot.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Jihad warnings for Zanzibar: Anglican Ink, June 6, 2012 June 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican Ink, Terrorism.
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Bishop Michael Hafidh of Zanzibar (left) and Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa of Tanzania (right)

Church leaders in Tanzania have called for prompt government action following two days of rioting by Muslim extremists in Zanzibar.

The Tanzanian press reports that over one hundred members of the Islamist militant group Uamsho — the Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation – took to the streets on 28-29 May 2012 in protest to the arrest their leaders. Militants have clashed with police and burned two Christian churches, shutting down Stone Town — the central business and tourist district of Zanzibar.

Police said they had arrested 30 members of Uamsho, but the organization disclaimed responsibility. “The Uamsho association … is not involved in any acts of breach of peace. We would like to urge all Muslims and Zanzibaris to continue to maintain peace and tranquility in the country,” it said in a statement published in the media.

However in a letter printed on 2 June 2012 in the Guardian of Dar es Salaam, three Zanzibari Christian leaders, Bishop Augustino Shayo of the Catholic Church, Bishop Michael Hafidh of the Anglican Church and Pentecostal Pastor Timothy Philemon of the Pentecostal Church, said Muslim fanatics were plotting to destroy all churches and church related buildings – schools, convents, cemeteries and heath centers on the island. Members of their churches were receiving mobile text messages warning them to leave the island or face death.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.