By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ZANZIBAR CITY, TANZANIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians on Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island anticipated more attacks against them Wednesday, July 1, as two churches were reportedly burned over the weekend by suspected militants opposing the spread of Christianity on the Muslim dominated semi-autonomous territory.
The Evangelical Assemblies of God in Tanzania (EAGT) church and a nearby Pentecostal Evangelical Fellowship in Africa church building were torched Sunday, June 28, with militants warning Christians to halt worship services, church officials said in published remarks.
“We don’t want churches on our street,” read a flier dropped at the door of Charles Odilo, who had donated the plot on which the EAGT building stood, reported Christian news agency Compass Direct News. “Today we are going to burn the church, and if you continue we are going to burn your house also,” the statement reported said.
There were no reports of injuries. Sunday’s attacks on Zanzibar came shortly after Muslim militants, angered by a recent upsurge in Christian evangelism, reportedly drove members of Zanzibar Pentecostal Church on May 9 from worship premises in a rented house at Ungunja Ukuu.
The violence has been linked to anger among militants over a two-day evangelism campaign culminating in an Easter celebration. Fearing for their lives, over 20 church members gathering for a Saturday service reportedly fled as Muslim militants approached them. Worship services were said to continue in smaller groups, with the pastor making home visits.
Earlier, another congregation was forced to leave its rented building by government officials, backed by “Muslim radicals” church sources said. Officials reportedly ordered Christians of the Church of God Zanzibar from their rented government facility effective April 19, “to pave the way for renovations.” But two months later, pastor Lucian Mgayway said no renovation work has begun and none appears to be forthcoming as the complex has been turned into a business site.
Compass Direct News quoted Pastor Mgayway as saying that the eviction was “a calculated move to disintegrate the church and to please the Muslims who do not want us to be in this particular area.”
Authorities have also put restrictions on evangelism and Christian programming on local radio and television, Christians say. Officials have not commented.
There have been several other known attacks against churches and other Christian institutions in recent years on the impoverished island of some one million people. off the coast of East Africa.
It comes amid political tensions on Zanzibar, which maintains a political union with Tanzania, but has its own parliament and president. A former center of the spice and slave trades, present-day Zanzibar is infused with African, Arab, European and Indian influences, observers say.
Under international pressure, the island held multi-party elections in 1995, which were won by the ruling, pro-union Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. The opposition Civic United Front (CUF) rejected the outcome and alleged vote rigging.
The CCM declared victory again in troubled polls in 2000 and 2005, which the international monitors said was overshadowed by violence and fraud accusations. Many CUF supporters fled to Kenya in 2000 after deadly clashes with police. Both parties signed a reconciliation agreement in 2001, but political tension remains.
Tourism is Zanzibar’s biggest industry, but analysts say most Zanzibaris do not benefit from it with average wage less than $1 per day. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).
Christians are called to be witnesses to the world. Sometimes that includes death at the hands of the unbelievers we love and pray for (Just like Jesus did). We should not fear death, if we have already died to this world. Persecution only increases our numbers. We should give all for Jesus Christ our Lord and savior, because He gave His all for us.
Blessings, peace and strength, provision and protection to the saints in Zanzibar. Our prayers are with them.
I have lived and worked in Zanzibar as an American for many years, working with arts organizations and secular institutions. What is a known fact is that Evangelicals and Pentecostals can be aggressive in their proselytizing and trying to “save” local people. Zanzibar is a 95% Muslim country and does not need saving. The statement written by felix is biased and uneducated, and frankly disrespectful to a community which has co-existed next to Christians for hundreds of years (see the Christian church in the capital Stonetown which co-exists peacefully with Muslims in the city).
Many of my friends in Zanzibar are both Christian and Muslim, and work closely together for the betterment of their communities. it is my guess that the churches that were burned inflamed the local population with aggressive rhetoric or actions which led to this. While the actions of the people who committed crimes against the churches were definitely wrong, at the same time those same Christian organizations have no business trying to convert or “save” people. Trying to do so only inflames anger and resentment and does not serve the cause of those Christian organizations nor serve the local public who seek to live in peace with their own beliefs and traditions. By the way, I am Christian and son of a pastor who doesn’t preach the word of God through saving the “unbelievers”.
Felix wherever you are, stay there please. You have no business in Zanzibar.
You say, “Zanzibar is a 95% Muslim country and does not need saving.” Obviously Bible believing Christians would argue that God wants to save anyone, regardless their ethnic or religious background. Jesus said in John 14:16 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He did not say “a” way, “a” truth, or “a” life. So if someone believes that, he or she obviously feels compelled to share that news with anyone. Jesus even told his followers to go out and preach the Gospel. In Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He said “all nations”, He didn’t say “don’t go to Zanzibar because it is a 95% Muslim country.” Jesus also warned of persecution when being saved. In John 15:18-19 for instance: “That is why the world hates you. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (New International Version). That was also I think what Felix wanted to point out to you. The fact that many Christians are still living in relative freedom in several Western countries is a miracle indeed. Here at BosNewsLife we like to remind them and others about those who are (already) persecuted for their faith.
Stefan J. Bos
Dear Brother in Christ, Friends, organization,
Greetings to you from New Covenant Church with the crying time of help in Island of Zanzibar- Tanzania.
This letter is please to request you as the Body of Christ for the suffering we are in today, by asking your help with a project taken on recently from your office.
We are in a thorny problem of church services building for long of time now; because where we are serving our church services we are stoped. The bad thing the hall was belongs to a Moslem. Now we are moving and stop our church services. So, we are kindly asking your urgent support to solve the situation that we are facing.
According to situation that we are facing today we kindly feel your urgent support of fund to assist building of 30,000,000 Tanzania Shillings that is $22,556.390 USD. So believe this can help us to buy a peace of land and make church construction in side. Now we get some Christian friend his seling us a peace of land for TZS 6,000,000 Million. But we dodn’t have meney at the moment.
By this we hope to make an emergency church construction and get a peace of land, because we cannot afford the cost to the financial position we are facing in our church. In ending I’d like to beg you again to help in three ways, please pray this projects can be done to receive what we need allowing the church services to continue and we get the place to stay.
Secondly pass on the enclosed letter about church building to other sponsors to some one who feels to help in your fellowship. Lastly it gives all who have heart to sponsor church work in Islamic area of Zanzibar. It’s a great way young people to put their prayers for the suffering church into practice –and know we can make a real difference to a seemingly hope less situation.
Finally, please consider what you can give to build the building for Christians, these Christian are God’s the future Zanzibar Church.
Your strategic support will help them live see that future and to be better-equipped front.
Yours Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Timothy W. Philemon
Cell +255 713 412-749
I do not think it is kind to tell people that are starving hunger, convert to Christianity or other religions in order to get food or die as many of you missionaries do all the time in Africa and around the world. You missionaries beg(Big Evil Grin) and call upon in supplication from all around communities and places of worship. You missionaries be in violation of human rights abuse and be cruel to life around the world inexcusably.
Please, just leave folks alone and let those who would like discover whatsoever religion they desire to choose on their own. Isn’t that a logical thing to do? I am not advocating violence but this really makes people react with anger and under many unfortunate circumstances the worst when an innocent life is lost. Especially when all religion hiding behind organizations are changing the great ole’ African names to European names. How does that sound to you? Isn’t that erasing people’s culture and history? As also your comrade/Christian believer Pete stated above. We Africans do not need you European and Arab names keep it to youselves.
Thank you :()
JESUS, JESUS!!! HERE am I LORD, Send ME (and my husband too of course!)