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Islamist separatists torch churches in v...

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Islamist separatists torch churches in violent riots in Zanzibar

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Islamist separatists torch churches in violent riots in Zanzibar

Country/Region: Tanzania, Africa

Supporters of a separatist Islamist movement attacked churches and other Christian property in violent riots in Zanzibar.

Stone_town_Skyline_4X3.jpg
The riots broke out in
the capital, Stone Town
CC BY-SA 2.0 / David Clay

Hundreds of members of the Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation (UAMSHO) clashed with police during protests, which started in the capital, Stone Town, an historically important tourism centre, on Saturday 26 May, then spread to other areas over the ensuing days.

They torched a number of churches, including one in Mpendae and one in Tomondo; a Christian centre in Bububu was also set alight. An Assemblies of God church in Kariakoo was damaged and a senior church leader’s vehicle burned.

One minister whose church was attacked said rioters invaded the building, poured petrol over it and set it ablaze, reinforcing the fire with burning tyres.

The Islamists, who were armed with clubs, machetes and iron bars, also torched homes and bars, destroyed transport and communication systems, and blocked roads. 

Zanzibar Commissioner of Police, Mussa Ali, said:

The rioters were threatening people’s lives by torching churches and blocking roads… We couldn’t tolerate them as they were destroying government and people’s properties.

Despite police and witness statements to the contrary, UAMSHO has denied having any part in the violence. But on Monday 28 May, 30 members of the group arrested in connection with the riots appeared at court charged with illegal assembly and causing unrest.   

The Islamist group had launched the riots in protest against the arrest of senior members of its movement. UAMSHO is strongly opposed to the government and has called for a referendum on Zanzibar’s independence from mainland Tanzania.

Analysts say the Islamist group has been gaining support since Zanzibar’s main opposition Civic United Front party formed a government of national unity with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous, predominantly Muslim archipelago.

Zitto Kabwe, mainland Tanzania opposition MP, said:

We should never allow a few disgruntled people to plunge us into chaos over religion so as to achieve their own political goals.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    • A church on Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, was attacked on 9 May by around 80 young Muslim men armed with arrows and knives. The church members, who are mainly converts from Islam, had gathered for their weekly overnight prayer session when the attackers appeared, shouting “death to ritad’i” (those who leave Islam). They set fi re to the church, leaving the interior in ruins, and then went in search of the pastor, but he was not at home. The incident followed a bomb blast at another church in Mwanza in mainland Tanzania on 5 May, in which a worker at the church rest house was critically injured. Pray that the authorities will effectively address the increasing incidence of attacks against churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for the many Christian victims of kidnapping by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Remember especially the more than two hundred teenage girls who were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, on the night of 14 April. A video released in May showed eight of the girls speaking about their ordeal; they plead for their release, and one says, “I never expected to suffer like this in my life.” It is believed that they have been divided into at least four groups and that most of them are being held in camps outside Nigeria. They are hungry, while some are unwell and need medical attention. Pray for their safe release and for that of other kidnapped Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Deadly attacks by Boko Haram continue relentlessly in Northern Nigeria. On 15 June, gunmen descended on the remote Christian village of Daku in Borno state; they killed 15 people, chasing and shooting those trying to escape, and torched a church, several homes and a market. Two weeks later, scores of people were killed in attacks on four villages near the mainly Christian town of Chibok; in Kwada the assailants burst into four churches and opened fire on worshippers before setting the buildings on fire. Pray that our distressed and persecuted brothers and sisters may find strength in the Lord their God (1 Samuel 30:6) as they pass through this bitter ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

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