Radical Islamists are suspected in the demolition of two church buildings on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar on Sunday (Nov. 21), as members of the congregations have since received death threats from Muslims.
The church buildings belonging to the Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) and the Evangelical Assemblies of God Zanzibar (EAGZ) in Masingini village, five kilometers (nearly three miles) from the center of Zanzibar city, were torn down at about 8 p.m., said Bishop Fabian Obeid of EAGZ. Mwera police received reports on the attacks on Monday morning (Nov. 22).
The latest in a string of violent acts aimed at frightening away Christians in the Muslim-dominated region, the destruction on the island off the coast of East Africa has raised fears that Muslim extremists could go to any length to limit the spread of Christianity, church leaders said.
“One Muslim was heard saying, ‘We have cleansed our area by destroying the two churches, and now we are on our mission to kill individual members of these two churches – we shall not allow the church to be built again,’” said one church member who requested anonymity.
Muslim extremists in Zanzibar, in concert with local government officials, have long limited the ability of Christians to obtain land for erecting worship buildings. In some cases they have destroyed existing buildings and put up mosques in their place.
Frustrated at obtaining government help to apprehend criminals, church leaders said they have little hope that the perpetrators of Monday’s attacks will ever be caught. In most cases the government sides with the attackers, delaying investigation out of fear of upsetting the majority Muslim population that opposes the spread of Christianity.
I wouldn’t have copied the “anonymous” testimony if it weren’t for those two last paragraphs. It doesn’t happen ONLY in Zanzibar with a Muslim-majority population, but it happens in Sweden too, as we have known a few days ago.