In a recent attack, some 90 Muslims stormed a Christian church in eastern Uganda, beating and tying up the men present before raping 15 of the Christian women.
The assault was reportedly a “revenge attack” against the pastor of the Katira church for allegedly converting Muslims to Christianity. Along with the violence perpetrated against the congregation, the mob also carried off the pastor, the Rev. Moses Mutasa, and severely damaged the church property.
According to a member of the congregation who escaped from the church, one of the attackers shouted, “Away with the pastor who is converting our Muslims to Christianity.” After the attack, church members also found leaflets accusing the pastor of converting Muslims and threatening more attacks.
The event occurred on the evening of January 15, but has just now come to the attention of international media. Now, two weeks after the attack, the church’s pastor is still missing, along with eight other Christians from his congregation who were kidnapped with him.
“We do not know what has happened to our pastor, Moses Mutasa. He might have been killed or has been kept hostage,” said the Rev. Musa Mukenye, who oversees several churches in the area.
When the mob attacked, there were some 50 men and 30 women in the church for a prayer meeting. The assailants locked the church doors before proceeding to beat the men and rape the women, who were later treated at a clinic in Katira.
“Women’s clothing was found inside and outside the church building,” one of the elders said. Police only arrived two hours after the assault began, according to news reports.
This was not the first time that the church suffered harassment from local Muslims. Earlier, a group of Muslims had thrown stones on the roof of the church building to disrupt church services of the 500-member congregation.
Pastor Mukenye has urged the Christian community not to retaliate with violence, but to leave justice to the authorities. “This act is evil, and police should not relent until the attackers are arrested and charged in a court of law,” he said.
Although Uganda is about 85 percent Christian and only 11 percent Muslim, some eastern areas of the country have Muslim majorities, such as the district where the church attack occurred. The latest assault follows a series of persecution incidents against Christians in eastern Uganda.
Thomas D. Williams PhD
1 February 2017