Arrested Christian convert escapes being lynched by Muslims. Pleads guilty to charges of burning the Qur’an, choosing the relative safety of a prison cell over the prospect of facing the enraged mob calling for his death
In Kiembesamaki, near Zanzibar city’s airport, area pastors said 28-year-old Ramadhan Hunda Tuma earlier this year opted for jail by entering a plea of guilty to charges that he burned the Quran, rather than face an enraged mob calling for his death.
More than 50 Muslims had packed into the courtroom to hear the judge’s Feb. 21 ruling on Tuma, whose landlady had ordered him to burn his trash after evicting him because he had converted to Christianity; he was not aware that among the trash was a small copy of the Quran used by beginning students in madrassas (Islamic schools), area pastors said.
“Outside the courtroom, there was a mob baying for his blood in case he was set free,” said Pastor Leonard Massasa of the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania. “One lady from church overheard them say, ‘If he is going to be released, then we will kill him.’”
Tuma, member of a church of another denomination in Zanzibar city, accidentally burned part of the Quran.
“Due to the conditions prevailing then, Tuma pleaded guilty because he feared for his life,” said another pastor, who requested anonymity. “He chose to go to jail rather than to be released only to be killed.”
Arriving home from a Sunday church service, Tuma found the wealthy landlady furious to learn that he had converted to Christianity; she had thrown all his belongings out of the house. She ordered him to leave, the pastor said. Tuma burned the trash under the supervision of his landlady, who reported him to a sheikh in a nearby mosque. A raucous crowd of Muslims showed up to kill him before police arrived and took him to the police station, the pastor said.
The church is caring for Tuma’s young family – his wife, 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, the pastor added.
District Magistrate Khamis Ali Simai of Mwanakwerekwe, Zanzibar, sentenced Tuma to 18 months for “disrespecting a religious faith” and six months for “threatening public peace,” though both terms are to run simultaneously, according to International Quran News Agency (IQNA). Simai ruled that Tuma’s burning of the Quran on Nov. 16, 2010 angered the Muslim community, thereby jeopardizing public peace, according to IQNA.
The judge said the punishment was to serve as warning to other would-be offenders, IQNA reported.
Prosecutors led by Raya Issa Mselem said they were not satisfied with the ruling and intended to appeal for a harsher sentence; Mselem said a stiffer penalty would better deter others who would be tempted to commit similar offenses, according to IQNA.Tuma, who represented himself and was put under tight police protection, pleaded for leniency on grounds that he was the sole breadwinner for his family and that he was suffering from a stomach ailment.
Christians Live in Cloud of Fear in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Compass Direct, September 5, 2011
Swahili man kidnapped by his extended Muslim family after openly confessing his conversion to Christianity
Tanzania, a young Swahili man was kidnapped on Friday 13th May by his extended Muslim family after openly confessing his conversion to Christianity.
. . .
The Tanzania convert, E, converted to Christianity just a few months ago, and since then has been openly sharing his faith with his community in Kilwa, Tanzania, despite his family’s open hostility to his conversion and being thrown out of the family home. He recently entered into an argument on Islamic theology, at a family gathering where Muslim leaders were also present, and the audience threatened to beat him up. Last Friday his uncles kidnapped him, taking him to another location and keeping him incommunicado. He managed to make a phone call on Sunday to ask for help to escape.Barnabas Fund has been asked not to publicise the names of the converts, so as not to endanger them further.
Converts from Islam Kidnapped in Indian Kashmir and Tanzania
John Mark Ministries, May 17, 2005
One Christian convert left with multiple injuries after being beaten almost to death by family members, while another is in hiding from family members who have threatened to kill him
On Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, Christian converts live in a climate of fear. It’s a place where a young man flees the island to escape death threats from his Muslim family, and a Christian convert who accidentally burned pages of the Quran opts for jail by entering a guilty plea rather than face certain death from a furious mob.
Yusuf Abdalla, 23, fled to Moshi, mainland Tanzania, after his family threatened to kill him in June. Having converted to Christianity in October 2010 after hearing the gospel on the radio, he was enrolled at a vocational school in Zanzibar city to learn tailoring when his family found out in March that he had left Islam.
The beating he then received from family members left him with injuries to his head, hand and torso, as well as a serious mouth wound and substantial loss of blood, said an area pastor who requested anonymity.
“The family then took back the tailoring machine which they had bought him,” the pastor said. “They also vowed not to support his training.”
As soon as he had recovered enough to leave, Abdalla found refuge on the premises of the pastor’s church before staying at his home on May 5. Within two months, reports had reached Abdalla’s family that he was staying at the pastor’s house, and on June 10 they threatened to kill him, the pastor said.
The church arranged for his escape to Moshi.
Another convert from Islam, Juma Suleiman of Chake-Chake on the neighboring island of Pemba, is also facing death threats. Suleiman became a Christian convert just two months ago when Tanzania Assemblies of God pastor Yohana Mfundo preached to him while he was in prison, Mfundo said.Suleiman was released a little over two weeks ago, and family members have already threatened to kill him. He is now in hiding and plans to flee the island.
Christians Live in Cloud of Fear in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Compass Direct, September 5, 2011
Christian convert from Islam reports burglary but, with help from his own family, he is arrested and severely beaten by police after they discover his Bible. Incarcerated for 8 months without trial and disowned by his family
Comoros – three tiny islands between Mozambique and Madagascar that declared independence from France in 1975 – a convert from Islam is suffering from a skin disease contracted in prison after his family threw him out.
The ordeal of Musta Kim began in March 2010 when, returning from an overnight prayer meeting, he found someone had broken into his house in Mdjwayezi village. What he thought would be a simple matter of reporting a burglary turned him into an outcast.
While looking for evidence in his home, police stumbled onto Christian materials – a Bible and film – which changed the course of inquiry from pursuing thieves to asking why Kim was practicing a forbidden faith.
The Muslim youth who broke into his home was suspicious that Kim had left Islam, Kim said. Police investigations following the March 4 ransacking lasted three months, and among the Christian materials officers found was the “Jesus Film,” a translation of the Gospel of Luke in the local Ngazidja language and a French Bible.
With the help of Kim’s family, police arrested him and severely beat him during interrogation, injuring his right eye, before throwing him into a jail cell, he said. He slept on a moist thin mattress in the filthy jail cell, leaving him with a skin disease that has affected his whole body. He also developed a serious infection on his navel, with secretion of pus, which required urgent attention.
Kim was rushed to the Roman Catholic Hospital in Mboeni, but his condition worsened, with his skin ailment resembling scabies. He began scratching himself continuously, leading to serious bleeding, and went sleepless nights in intense pain throughout his body, he said.
His health deteriorating, he made an appeal in the high court regarding his eight months of incarceration without trial, and he was released on Feb. 29, 2011.
His family, however, rejected him, and Kim did not know who to turn to for shelter, medicine and food, he said.
“I cannot sleep at night – the whole body is itching and hurting,” he said. “I need medical assistance – my family has deserted me.”
Hailing from Mdjwayezi village 20 kilometers from Moroni town, Kim is an active member of the underground church.The Comorian constitution provides for freedom of religion, though it is routinely violated. Islam is the legal religion, and anyone found practicing another faith faces opposition. Evangelism is forbidden, and converts to Christianity can expect severe reprisals, according to Operation World, which states that the country is 98.84 percent Muslim and 0.93 percent Christian.
Muslim Extremists Strike at Christians in East African Isles
Simba Tian, Compass Direct, January 15, 2012