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Zanzibar Cathedral attacked by terrorists: The Church of England Newspaper, March 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Terrorism.
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Islamist militants have bombed Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar. The attack comes amidst a rise of political and anti-Christian agitation as the East African archipelago prepares to vote in an April referendum calling for independence from Tanzania.

On 24 February 2014 two explosions rocked the main entrance to Christ Church Cathedral and the Old Slave Market – the island’s largest tourist attraction. A tourist bar in Stone Town and a Pentecostal church were also attacked.

The Vicar General of Zanzibar told the Church of England Newspaper there were no fatalities in the blast. “We thank God there were no injuries,” he wrote in an email shortly after the attack.

“Police are investigating and have swept the compound. We are assessing the situation, in contact with multiple agencies and Western government officials. The British Consul was on site almost immediately and a tremendous help to us. The people here are obviously shaken.”
Zanzibar has been the scene of several attacks on native Christians and Western tourists. In October 2012 the cathedral was attacked after militant Islamists rioted in the wake of the disappearance of a leading Muslim cleric.

Anglican leaders were evacuated after Islamist militants issued death threats against Bishop Michael Hafidh and foreign clergy serving on the island. Built on the site of the former slave market of Zanzibar, the Nineteenth century cathedral is one of the island’s leading tourist attractions. It also hosted Dr. Rowan Williams and the primates of the Anglican Communion in 2007.

The Muslim Mobilization and Propagation Group (UAMSHO) has called for the dissolution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the creation of an Islamist state for the island of Zanzibar. UAMSHO cadres have also demanded the expulsion of Zanzibar’s Christians, saying they have no place on the island.
UAMSHO has also been suspected of involvement in a series of shootings and acid attacks on Christians, as well as arson attacks on rural churches on the island.

In August 2013 Islamist terrorists attacked two British teenagers, throwing acid on the girls as they were walking in the Shangani section of Stone Town, the island’s capital.

A Roman Catholic priest was severely injured last September after terrorists threw acid in his face while he was walking along a busy street in the town’s commercial district. A Catholic priest was shot to death while standing at the doorstep of his church in Zanzibar on 17 Feb 2013, while on Christmas Day gunmen shot and seriously wounded a Catholic priest as he was returning home from services.

 

EU Grant for Zanzibar cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, October 18, 2013 October 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, EU.
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Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar has been awarded a grant by the EU to build a heritage and education centre on the cathedral’s precincts to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

Construction on the coral stone Gothic cathedral began in 1873 on the site of Zanzibar’s old slave market, with the altar located on the spot of the slave market’s whipping post. Consecrated in 1903 the church has a barrel vault cement roof and incorporates perpendicular Gothic and Islamic architectural details.

Funds from the EU grant, supported by the U.S. State Department and the Governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar, will also go towards the material upkeep and repair of the cathedral.. The project will also provide heritage management training to the Wakf commission, which administers Islamic institutions on the island and is responsible for over 50 per cent of the historic housing stock in Stone Town, the island’s capital.

The project will be implemented by World Monuments Fund and its partners, the Anglican Church of Tanzania, the Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society and the UK charity Christian Engineers in Development.

“Our hope is that the preservation and promotion of this historical site in Zanzibar will fuel a sense of common belonging for the Zanzibari people and of ownership of their cultural heritage; it should contribute to building national identity in the diversity, tolerance and solidarity between faiths, communities and peoples.” said the EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi.

 

Acid attack on British girls in Zanzibar: The Church of England Newspaper, August 16, 2013 p 6. August 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper.
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Suspected Islamist terrorists have attacked two British teenagers in Zanzibar, throwing acid on the two girls as they were walking in the Shangani section of Stone Town, the island’s capital.

Speculations as to the motive for the attack are rife. The girls are members of a Zionist youth group and may have been targeted for being Jewish, or the assault may have arisen due to their work at an Anglican school on the island, or could have arisen from their breach of the prohibitions of Ramadan practiced in the majority Muslim country.

Sheikh Issa Ponda, a leader of an Islamist extremist group in Zanzibar, has been detained by police for questioning.

On 8 August 2013 the Zanzibari government released a statement denouncing the attack and offering a reward for information. “The event is a great tragedy, and an attack of this nature against a foreign citizen, has never happened here before,” it said, adding this was a “serious incident” that had “damaged the reputation of a peaceful and stable Zanzibar. The attack is unacceptable and could affect our tourism industry – which is a major economic driver in Zanzibar.”

On the evening of 7 August 2013 at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, and as Muslim’s began to celebrate the Eid holiday, Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee of Hampstead, were walking in an area popular with tourists, when two men on a motorbike road up beside them. The passenger on the motor bike threw acid on the girls, severely burning their faces, arms and shoulders. The girls were airlifted to Dar es Salaam for medical treatment and have since returned to England.

The Jewish Chronicle reports the two girls are members of the Federation for Zionist Youth, prompting speculation they were attacked for being Jews. However, the girls were also volunteers at St Monica’s Anglican school on the precincts of Christ Church Cathedral and could have been singled out as Christians.

The vicar-general of the Anglican Diocese of Zanzibar told The Church of England Newspaper the girls were not sponsored by the diocese or a mission agency. A missionary in Zanzibar told CEN the attack was likely due to the girl’s violation of the strictures of Ramadan.

“Apparently the two girls had several altercations in Stone Town before this incident. They got themselves on the radar screen” of the island’s Islamist extremists.  They had an argument with a shop keeper and were “slapped” by a Muslim women for singing during Ramadan.

Our source stated “The problem with coming on their own and not being with a team of locals. Bad idea. While Stone Town is “touristy” it’s, ironically, the headquarters for the radical/separatist movement and opposition party. So it’s not a good place to be hanging if you don’t have friends and don’t know what you’re doing.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 78, August 9, 2013 August 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

Silly Story Month 00:00
News from Sydney 08:06
Egypt and Zanzibar 12:06
AS Haley 18:03
Peter Ould 32:42
Closing and Outtakes 40:51

105,000 Christians murdered for the faith in 2012: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Persecution.
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Over 105,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2012, an Italian sociologist told Vatican Radio last week, with reports from Africa, India and Asia showing a surge in anti-Christian persecution over the Christmas holidays.

Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy from Islam but released after an international protest campaign was re-arrested at his home on Christmas Day, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

In a 26 December 2012 statement, CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said Pastor Nadarkhani had been returned to prison Iran. CSW reported he had “been returned to jail on the orders of the director of Lakan Prison, who claimed he had been released several days too early due to the insistence of his lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah,” who is also in an Iranian jail for having defended Mr. Nadarkhani.

The Mohabat News service reported that on 27 Dec 2012, approximately 50 converts to Christianity from Islam were also arrested by police in Tehran for unlawful assembly.  The converts were released after several hours of police interrogation, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, remains in custody.

In Nigeria, the Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, attacked a church service on Christmas Eve in a village in Yobe State, killing the pastor and several members of the congregation.  The First Baptist Church in the northern city of Maduguri was attacked by gunmen during a Midnight Service on Christmas Eve and the church’s deacon was killed.  Reports on the total death count vary, with reports ranging from 12 to 24 killed.  CSW reports that since 2010, 45 Christians have been killed in Christmas church attacks launched by Boko Haram.

On 29 Dec, terrorist believed to belong to an Islamist militia group attacked the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Dafniya a town near Misrata Libya.  Three members of the church’s staff were killed and two were injured in the attack.  As members of the congregation left the church following the Saturday evening service, a bomb exploded inside the church.  The Coptic Church in Egypt reports the death toll could have been much higher as the blast went off after the congregation had moved from the church to the parish hall at the conclusion of services – those killed were those still inside the sanctuary when the bomb detonated.

A Catholic priest in Zanzibar was shot on Christmas Day, missionaries on the majority Muslim island off the coast of Tanzania tell The Church of England Newspaper.  Fr Ambrose Mkenda was shot by two men riding a motorcycle as stepped out of his car after returning home from celebrating Christmas Day service.  Sources on the island tell CEN Fr. Mkenda, who is recovering in hospital, was not believed to be the primary target of the attack and was mistaken for the Catholic bishop of the island.  Last year the Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy on the island were forced to flee to the mainland for a week after Uamsho, an extremist Islamic group, sparked riots.

In an interview broadcast on 26 Dec, the Feast of St Stephen the Martyr, Prof. Massimo Introvigne reported that in 2012 it was believed 105,000 Christians were “murdered for their faith”, or “one death every 5 minutes.”

Christians were most at risk in areas with a strong Islamic fundamentalist presence, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan and some parts of Egypt, in Communist North Korea, and in countries with strong ethnic national identities, where national identity is tied to religion.  In Orissa State in India, he said, Christians are considered “traitors to the nation.”

Ideology lay behind the persecution of Christians, Prof.  Introvigne said: “the ideology of radical Islamic fundamentalism, the more aggressive versions of ethno-nationalism and, of course, the vestiges of the old Communist ideology.”

He noted that “when it comes to the 105 000 deaths per year, these are not all martyrs in the theological sense of the term. However, within this number there those people who very consciously lay down their lives for the Church and often also pray for their persecutors and these offer forgiveness,” he said.

This forgiveness of those who persecute them is the “unique feature of Christianity, because many other cultures – even pre-Christian and post-Christian – speak, the right and duty of honor and vengeance. Christianity had this great civilizing function, which today we tend to forget, to have replaced the logic of revenge with the logic of forgiveness,” Prof. Introvigne said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Muslim extremists attack Zanzibar’s Anglican Cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, October 28, 2012 p 6. October 30, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Persecution, Terrorism.
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Ponda Issa Ponda

Christ Church Cathedral in Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar came under assault last week after militant Islamists rioted in the wake of the disappearance of a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed.

The Muslim Mobilization and Propagation Group (UAMSHO) has been calling for the dissolution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the creation of an Islamist state for the island of Zanzibar.  UAMSHO cadres have also demanded the expulsion of Zanzibar’s Christians, saying they have no place on the island.  In July two rural Pentecostal churches were attacked by Islamist extremists and attacks on Christians have been reported across the island.

On the morning of 16 October 2012 Sheikh Ahmed was seen getting into a car driven by an unidentified man.  UAMSHO reported his disappearance to the police soon after.

Police Commander Said Juma told the Dar es Salaam Daily News the police had not arrested Sheikh Ahmed and “immediately we started to investigate.”

“Unfortunately as the investigation continues, youths started demonstrating by blocking streets with stones, garbage and burning tyres.” He reported a leisure centre was destroyed by fire and riot police deployed to the old city area of Stone Town.

Anglican leaders were warned to evacuate as Islamist militants had issued death threats against Bishop Michael Hafidh and foreign clergy serving on the island.  Unconfirmed reports from Stone Town sent to Dar es Salaam report militants had attacked the cathedral after the bishop was evacuated and attempted to burn the coral stone building.  Built on the sight of the former slave market of Zanzibar, the Nineteenth century cathedral is one of the island’s leading tourist attractions.  It also hosted Dr. Rowan Williams and the primates of the Anglican Communion in 2007.

Four days after leaving the island, the bishop and the evacuated clergy were able to return to their homes.  One priest told the Church of England Newspaper that although his car had been vandalized his home appeared untouched, as the army was patrolling the streets and had restored order.  As of our going to press, no reports have been released on the condition of the cathedral.

Riot police were also deployed in the Central Business District of the capital Dar es Salaam last week after militants marched on the Central Police Station demanding the release of Mr. Ponda Issa Ponda, the Secretary of the Council of Muslims’ Organizations.

Mr. Ponda had been arrested on 16 Oct after threatening President Jakaya Kikwete.  The Muslim leader had issued an ultimatum to the government calling upon it to release members of his organization arrested last week for their involvement in a sectarian riot sparked by claims a 14-year old Christian boy had urinated on a Koran.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

What’s happening in Zanzibar: Get Religion, October 18, 2012 October 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Get Religion, Persecution, Press criticism.
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It’s been about five years since I was last in Zanzibar. I was part of the press gaggle accompanying the archbishops of the Anglican Communion on a day trip from the mainland to Christ Church Cathedral in Stone Town — the island’s principal town. Built over 125 years ago on the site of the old slave market (the altar was built atop the sight of the market’s whipping post) the picturesque coral stone cathedral is a monument to the British suppression of the slave trade. Zanzibar had been the entrepôt for slaves captured on the mainland before they were shipped north to the Arab world.

Zanzibar was a welcome diversion from the rather limited delights of Dar es Salaam, and I have followed and reported on the news from the island — part of the Republic of Tanzania — ever since. My knowledge of the island and its history has grown from a vague idea it was connected with Freddie Mercury and a Bob Hope movie. I have also come to know the Anglican bishop of the island and am a “Facebook friend” with one of his clergy.

Hence this story from Reuters caught my eye. Through Facebook posts I was aware of the situation on the island and was waiting to see what would come across the wires.

The 18 Oct 2012 story begins:

STONE TOWN, Zanzibar (Reuters) – Supporters of a separatist Islamist group in Zanzibar looted shops and fought with police on Thursday after their leader disappeared, witnesses said, the third outbreak of violence this year on the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Supporters of Sheikh Farid Hadi, a leader of the Islamic Uamsho (Awakening) movement who has not been seen since Tuesday, threw stones at police, blocked roads with cut-down trees and burned tyres in the island’s main town. “Police are everywhere and firing teargas. There is nobody around town and the shops are closed. It’s a terrible situation,” Said Salleh, 40, a businessman from Zanzibar, told Reuters by phone.

Witnesses said protesters looted shops and video footage showed a number of rioters holding machetes and hiding their faces with balaclavas. Heavily armed police stepped up patrols late on Thursday and continued to engage in sporadic battles with rioters in Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town. “The streets are deserted … Only heavily armed policemen are now patrolling the town. We are afraid to go out, we can still hear the sound of gunfire,” Rukiya Khalifa, a resident of the historic Stone Town area, told Reuters.

The latest violence raised concerns of an escalation in religious tension in the predominantly Muslim island which is part of Tanzania but ruled by a semi-autonomous secular government.

The article continues with background information on the political roots of the discontent, statements from police and government leaders, and closes with this sentence:

In May Uamsho supporters set fire to two churches and clashed with police over the arrest of senior members of the movement.

What struck my eye as I read this story was a suspicion that the dateline for this story was incorrect. At the foot of the story a note states the reporting took place from Dar es Salaam, with additional reporting taking place at other locations. The language of the story, “told Reuters by phone” and  “video footage showed” strongly suggests this report was not written from Stone Tone in Zanzibar as the dateline states, but elsewhere.

Reporters cannot be everywhere and there is nothing wrong with basing stories upon telephone interviews, government press statements, and video footage. But I question the wisdom of leading with the Stone Town claim, for if the reporter were writing from the island, I wonder why he would have omitted the news that Christ Church Cathedral was attacked by Uamsho militants, some Christians have gone into hiding for fear of their lives, and the Bishop of Zanzibar and some of his clergy were evacuated by plane from the island.

I am not in Stone Town and my knowledge of the above comes from telephone and Facebook communications from those who witnessed the riots and have fled the island — one fellow saying he and his family left house and car, dog and cat behind and wondering what he will find when he is permitted to return. Nor do I know the fate of the Roman Catholic bishop of Zanzibar or if militants attacked St Joseph’s Cathedral.

While the Reuters piece closes with a mention of the past church burnings, there is no sense in this story that the militant outrage over the arrest of their leader by police is expressed in attacks on a small and vulnerable Christian minority. Is it that after reports of pogroms and persecution of Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia the Sudan, Nigeria, and Kenya in recent weeks, another church burning does not warrant more than a brief mention? I am also uneasy about the lack of context for this story. I will concede that context is a rare thing in a wire service story where a reporter must squeeze as much as he can into 400 words or less. But omitting the over arching place of radical Islam in the story does leave the piece unfinished.

At the same time, I am writing from the safety of the U.S. and am not of interest to the East German-trained security services of Zanzibar nor subject to the country’s press laws. There is no danger of my prattling on about persecution as I am safe from it. Tell me GetReligion readers, where does the balance lie? How much can be told? How much should be told? Can a story be shaded to claim it was written on sight, but remove the clues that would give a malevolent eye a hint as to who was talking? What say you?

First printed at Get Religion.

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.