PERSECU ION International Christian Concern | August 2013
Map of radical Islamic attacks across Tanzania’s landscape.
The Peace of Tanzania Violently Disturbed Islamic Extremism Becomes a Harsh Reality BY R E B E K A H J OY C H A PM A N
AU T H O R’S P E R SO N A L N OT E:
I stared at the picture of the destroyed church, tears flowing freely down my face. Broken glass, rubble, and doors ripped in half –the images gripped at my heart. Why? The church I was looking at is located eight short minutes from the house in Tanzania where I grew up, and these people experiencing these horrific attacks are my friends and neighbors. Last October, an angry mob of Muslims went on a rampage and destroyed three churches in eight hours. This rioting oc-
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curred in my old neighborhood in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. However, it is not just the location of the attacks that alarm me; it is because Tanzania is my home, and the Tanzanian people are my people. I left Tanzania five years ago. When I was there I could walk to church with my family, Bible in hand, unafraid. I had never heard of anyone in Tanzania attacked or persecuted for their faith. I went to church services underneath huge trees, out in the open, and the thought that I might be in danger because I was worshipping Jesus never crossed my mind. But that has all changed. Over the past 14 months, ICC has documented 66 violent incidents of persecution. Alarmingly, much of this persecution has occurred in the past eight months. There is a clear escalation and geographic broadening of violence. In this once peaceful land, violent persecution is now reality and is rapidly changing the country of my youth (see graph page 17). To me, Tanzania is not just another alarming example of the spread of radical Islam. It is my home, and it is under attack.
T H E E S C A L AT I O N O F P E R S E C U T I O N
The violence started when a young Christian boy, egged on by a Muslim friend, urinated on a Quran. Two days later, on October 12, 2012, a large, angry Muslim mob formed and went after the boy, planning to kill him. When the mob discovered the boy was being protected by the police, they rioted and burned down three churches. Over the next few months, two pastors were murdered and one pastor had to evacuate because of a death threat. “Last October during the rioting, a mob attacked our church guesthouse setting fire to it. The mob then began making its move towards our residence compound saying they were going to kill us. We split up, sending people off the island by various means to an undisclosed location,” shared a pastor from Zanzibar that spoke to ICC. On February 11, 2012, another pastor was killed. “A group of radical Islamists armed with machetes, big clubs, knives and sticks assaulted [the Christians] and seriously beat them,” said another ICC contact in Tanzania. “When Pastor Kachili heard about the attack, he rushed to the scene to intervene. When the Muslims saw him they immediately attacked and ultimately beheaded him.” A D I S T U R B I N G E S C A L AT I O N
However, the most violent of all the attacks was yet to come. On Sunday, May 5, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church was bombed, killing three people and injuring over 50. “When it exploded there was a stampede, people running in all direc-
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Pastor Dickson, a persecuted Christian in Tanzania, hid in his church office while rioters destroyed his church and set fire to his car.
tions, walking over each other, children were screaming and women crying,” a witness told Al Jazeera. “I saw a dead woman trampled, I think even her two children were killed in the same way,” another witness added. The months of May and June brought three more brutal attacks. “[The] attack at my church occurred on May 26, 2012,” Pastor Dickson said. “Radical Muslims, who are growing in number in Tanzania, set fire to my church building. They set fire to all of the chairs, musical equipment and
40 35 30
N U M B E R O F AT TA C K S Total Zanzibar Mainland
25 20 15 10 5
our PA system,” the pastor explained. “They even [burned] our Bibles and set my car on fire.” Pastor Daudi Nzumbi was also attacked, the Muslims coming to his home to kill him. Thankfully, they did not succeed and no one was injured. Two nights later, Pastor Robert was assaulted by a large group of radical Muslims. The attackers broke into his home and attacked with machetes, hacking his arms and legs. He survived but is still in recovery. In a new low, ICC has learned extremists are strategically using rape to persecute Christian women. At least six Christian girls were raped by Muslim extremists on the island of Zanzibar in the past couple of months. Muslim leaders are actually proud of the violence. A threatening text message sent to many Christian leaders after Father Evarist Mushi was killed reads, “We thank our young men, trained
in Somalia, for killing an infidel. Many more will die. We will burn homes and churches. We have not finished: at Easter, be prepared for disaster.” Though no attacks took place over the Easter holiday, many Christians on Zanzibar are still afraid to attend church regularly and are beginning to wonder if abandoning the island would be their safest option. Since the majority of the attacks are occurring on the island of Zanzibar, you would expect the attacks on the mainland of Tanzania to be concentrated on the coast. What’s disturbing, however, is how widespread the attacks on the mainland are, occurring hundreds of miles apart (see map page 15). THE HIDDEN REALITY
Sources are telling ICC that Saudi Arabia plays a malignant You can help today! 800-ICC-5441
T H E F U T U R E O F TA N Z A N I A role in this unfolding nightmare. “Spurred by the massive influx of petrol dollars, starting roughly 40 years ago, the Saudi government has spent more than $100 billion build- Radical Islam will not be stopped from terrorizing Tanzania ing radical mosques and madrassas (Islamic boarding and spreading across East Africa unless immediate action is schools),” says Jeff King, ICC’s president. He explains that taken. Unfortunately, Tanzania’s government has been usethe problem is widespread, occurring even here in America. less in preventing attacks and protecting Christians from “In this way, the Saudi investment has paid off in hatred, violence. Since the first day persecution began, they have bloodshed, violence, and the recent rise in Islamic terrorism. yet to convict any of the attackers. In the U.S., many experts are warning that up to 70 percent of ICC’s Regional Manager for U.S. mosques are funded and Africa, William Stark, said, controlled by Saudi/Wahabbi “The Tanzanian government Islamists.” “WHEN PASTOR KACHILI HEARD needs to arrest and convict the ABOUT [AN] ATTACK, HE RUSHED TO perpetrators of this violence The Saudis have a reputation THE SCENE TO INTERVENE. WHEN THE and end the culture of impufor turning moderate Muslims nity. They must be proactive into radicals, using both maMUSLIMS SAW HIM THEY and take action for Tanzanian drassas and mosques to heavIMMEDIATELY ATTACKED AND Christians so they do not have ily influence peaceful areas. ULTIMATELY BEHEADED HIM.” to live in terror. Religious free“Generally, Christians are dom is protected by the constidenied employment, places tution of Tanzania; they should to live and the government -ICC CONTACT IN TANZANIA back it up.” schools are Islamic making it very hard on the children. The pressure to convert to Islam is immense,” shared a pastor Unfortunately Tanzania’s government has not shown any from the island of Zanzibar. When asked why he thought this signs of awakening from their stupor. Given that harsh realpersecution was happening, he answered, “Radical Islam, ity, the future for Tanzania is very bleak and many Christian funded by the Middle East (Saudi) wants all non-Muslims off leaders wonder if this all leads to civil war. Christians are the island. They want an independent, Sharia Law Islamic increasingly living under a cloud of terror (the whole objecRepublic aligned with the Middle East. If they can’t force tive of the Muslim radicals) as they see the violence grow in independence politically, they’ll use violence to chase away breadth and intensity while the government fails to protect them. the Christian presence.”
The pastor from Zanzibar also attests to the rapid changes Tanzania has seen “TANZANIA WAS ONCE over the past year. “Tanzania was once THE ONLY STABLE the only stable country in the region. COUNTRY IN THE It’s now shaking,” said the pastor. He warns that there might be a civil war REGION. IT’S NOW on the horizon: “It’s the assessment SHAKING.” of the Western intelligence agencies and military intel that the region is headed for civil war. It’s unavoidable; -PERSECUTED PASTOR once Islam hits 50 percent it must rule. FROM ZANZIBAR Tanzania borders eight other countries. Once it falls, it will be a hub for regional takeover. The overall picture for Africa is quite bleak. Radical Islam is advancing. It is well funded. It has a goal and a plan.”
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If events continue to unfold in this fashion, the bloodshed in Tanzania will increase until peace and religious freedom are luxuries of the past, and every Christian living in this once peaceful nation lives in terror.
A few questions with Pastor Dickson If anyone knows targeted persecution, it is Pastor Dickson. After his church building was attacked and his car set on fire, Pastor Dickson still finds a reason to smile. In an intimate interview with ICC, he shares his hope for the future of Tanzanian believers. ICC: CAN YOU DESCRIBE IN DETAIL WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOUR CHURCH WAS ATTACKED? Pastor Dickson: In April 2012, I asked (my) church to enter into a month-long fasting and prayer. It’s like I was sensing a great danger. So we started fasting and praying. I remember on Saturday it was my normal custom to be in the church for the overnight prayer and fasting (24 hours). Working in an Islamic area, you really need to have God’s power. Therefore, on May 25, 2012, I was in the church. It was very special because we were concluding our onemonth fasting and prayer. So as I was in my office around [9 p.m.], I felt again the imminent danger. I went to the church auditorium and asked the young men and women who were praying to stop praying in a loud voice. I also asked them to put off the light, and I went back to my office meditating and preparing my sermon. Twenty minutes later I had a great number of people coming towards the church, chanting “Allah Akbar, takbir, burn the church...etc.” So I rushed to the church and helped the women to go out of the wall on another side because these people, who were more than
200, were pushing the gate. When they failed to push the gate, they managed to pull down the wall and entered church compound. They collected our plastic chairs (more than 700) and all of our PA system and musical equipments, piled them together, poured some fuel and set on fire. They went out and set on fire my only small car. As they were doing this I was still hiding in my office. I had the time to run away but something was holding me back. In my office, I couldn’t pray. I was thinking that what we learn from Church history about persecution is very real and live to me. I didn’t know what to do but I was ready for anything. I knew why God had pushed me into long-time prayer. It was like I was dead already. I was thinking of my lovely wife and my kids. I understood that day why Paul said, “To die is to be with Christ and to live is for Christ.” That story went live on TV so some of my members came the same night. Others were crying especially women. On Sunday more came to the church. I remember sitting in my office wondering what am I going to say before the congregation. I didn’t want to cry before them but deep down me I was bitterly crying. By the help of the Holy Spirit I
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stood before them and said, “Why God has allowed this to happen to us - it is because he trust us.” I used Job’s experience to point out that we should encourage one another, that God is proud of us and that he still loves us. I had never seen such a powerful service like that day. People became so strong. It was like they confirmed that our faith is real and that our Jesus is real. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS PERSECUTION IS HAPPENING?
lence against Christians. Video tapes to propagate violence against us is everywhere in Zanzibar. We are living under normal threat. As am speaking I am not free to go the public areas with my family. My life has been home church - home. Our community has greatly changed. I just see fear, hatred among the people. In general, there is an increased hatred of Christianity on the island now. Attacks against churches have increased. HOW HAS YOUR FAITH HELPED YOU GET THROUGH THIS PERSECUTION?
I think there is an element of radical Islam invading our country. There is a group who have this element and are My faith has helped me to get through these persecution. advocating to break from the union. They are claiming First of all the Bible teaches me that persecution is part of that, since 99 percent of the population is Muslim, then our Christian life. Jesus made very clear that “they will perZanzibar should be ruled by Islamic laws (Sharia). My secute and even kill you....” Church history is covered by the church is the target because of its influence. It is the larg- stories of persecution. I strongly that God has called me in est and most powerful church on the island and because Zanzibar and since he has called me he will protect me. God is greatly using us in signs and Whatever will happen to me then it wonders, some Muslims are attractwill be the divine appointment. ed and we have some converts from [THE PERSECUTION] WAS Islam. IN THE PICTURE OF YOU LIKE [THE ATTACKERS] STANDING NEXT TO YOUR CONFIRMED THAT OUR The reason behind this is an increase BURNED UP CAR, TAKEN in the number of fundamentalist RECENTLY AFTER THE ATTACKS FAITH WAS REAL AND and radical elements in Zanzibar and (PAGE 18), YOU HAVE A HUGE THAT OUR JESUS WAS Tanzania in general. In the case of SMILE ON YOUR FACE. CAN YOU Zanzibar, this is fueled by separatists EXPLAIN HOW YOU ARE ABLE REAL. who are advocating for the [island] TO SMILE SO SOON AFTER THE to break away from the [mainland]. ATTACK? -PASTOR DICKSON Separatists want to break away from Tanzania because many fundamenI am a leader. When things like this talist Muslims believe that being tied to the mainland is happen people look at you. They want to hear what you causing Zanzibar to become “Christianized.” say. Whatever you do or say may have either negative or positive impact. Paul in Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the It is very difficult to know who exactly is behind this [in- Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” Paul was in jail as crease in persecution]. But it is obvious these people are he was writing this letter. He had all the reason to be sad well funded and they have strategized their campaign of and to ask people to mourn about him. Instead he encourpersecuting Christians, aiming to their specific goals. aged people to rejoice even at this difficult time. Why? Because the Bible says “...the Joy of the Lord is your strength” I don’t exactly know why my church was targeted, but I (Nehemiah 8:10). When the devil attacks he wants you think one reason is that my church congregation was to be scared, full of fear, weak. He wants you to stop dogrowing very fast. God has been using me mightily. Many ing what you are doing. This is what they did to Peter and people, including Muslims, have come for healing and John: “They called them in again and commanded them some of them are converting to Christianity. not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Peter had to be firm, “for we can not help speaking about HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES IN THE what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). God has done ENVIRONMENT OF TANZANIA OVER THE PAST great things to me... I am a leader. In a place like this you YEAR? just need to find strength in the Lord. There are big mosques built in Zanzibar. There are some popular mosques which are known to be preaching vio6
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