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By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos

 

One of the churches that was destroyed in the violence.



ZANZIBAR CITY, TANZANIA (BosNewsLife)-- Tanzanian Christians were seeking justice Thursday, June 14, after hundreds of supporters of a separatist Islamic group burned two church buildings in the East African nation's semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar.

Last month's clashes were the latest in a series of attacks that saw dozens of churches destroyed in recent years, Christians and activists said.

Police accused the Uamsho (Awakening) group of ordering its followers to destroy the churches on May 26 and May 27 as part of protests against the recent arrest of 30 of its members.

Christians said the violence began in Stone Town, the historic commercial and tourism center of Zanzibar City, with some 200 Muslims shouting ‘Takbir, Allahu Akbar’ or 'Allah is great'.

The leader of the Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) Bishop Dickson Maganga, told Tanzania's The Citizen online news service that a group of people raided his church building Saturday, May 26.

BREAKING IN CHURCH

“They broke into the church and burned plastic chairs before going for my car which they also reduced to a shell,” Bishop Maganga was quoted as saying.

He said “The fire brigade managed to put out the fire before it spread.”

Uamsho, a Swahili acronym of its full name the 'Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation', has denied having any part in the unrest, which local media claimed also injured scores of people.

The Islamic movement has called for a referendum on Zanzibar's exit from its union with mainland Tanzania.

The Indian Ocean archipelago of about 1 million people merged with mainland Tanganyika in 1964 to form the modern Tanzania, but Zanzibar retains its own president and parliament.

GOVERNMENT EXTREMIST CRACKDOWN?

Officials claim they are cracking down on extremists, but local Christian leaders have suggested that the Islamic government of Zanzibar at least indirectly supports anti-Christian violence by not giving permits for church buildings and not detaining the real suspects.

Some politicians have reportedly openly supported the destruction of churches.

Recent attacks are part of a wider anti-Christian trend in the region, stressed International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group investigations the incidents.

"Christians say that Islamic attackers have destroyed 25 churches in the past ten years but the Muslim government officials of Zanzibar have failed to bring the perpetrators to justice and rebuild their churches," ICC said published remarks.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said in a statement to BosNewsLife that his group has urged authorities in Zanzibar "to stop their policies of discriminating against Christians."

FUTURE R REMAINS UNCERTAIN

Tanzania, East Africa's second largest economy, has pledged to have a new constitution in place by 2014, with Zanzibar and the union's future expected to be one of the major issues of debate.

The Uamsho group is gaining popularity following the disenchantment of supporters of Zanzibar's main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party after its decision to form a government of national unity with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, Reuters news agency reported.

Christians are concerned that this will lead to growing religious tensions in Zanzibar.

3 Responses to “Tanzania Christians Seek Justice After Destruction Churches”

  1. Mjenga Says:

    Dear my friends of the historic significance and beautiful Zanzibar.

    You clearly declare that you want to detach yourselves from the mainland Tanzania. And if you think you are ‘mature’ enough to go on your own; think again and again. Zanzibar will not without Tanzania or East Africa to be precise. You are acting like a defiant teenager who thinks that he no longer needs his parents.

    I don’t deny that your main income is derived from tourism. Any economic boost that is realized in Zanzibar come through the mainland Tanzania or rarely from further North Kenya.

    Look at your schools, your colleges, your industries….and the list goes on and on? Look at the trained manpower, they all come from the mainland if not outside East Africa. Look at your dwindling transport, communication and energy system. Look at the vessels that connects you with the mainland; most of them are privately owed. Who will buy your spices; turmeric, tandoori, vanilla beans, masala, hot chilies, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks or powder, saffron, ginger, and others.

    When you allow extremists to take over this beautiful archipelago of Zanzibar, this land will just be another Somalia, if not worse. The beauty of your Island will be no more. The great resorts and hotels that fetch income for your citizens will be no more. The ever beautiful white sand beaches will be turned into ruins. This is not a curse but a caution.

    Is this what you want of your beautiful land? Think again

    Let politicians not take advantage of the local citizens. If you set your own house in fire, who do you turn to? Your neighbor will not be there for you. Look at the countries that suffer today because of making wrong decisions.

    Peace

  2. skai Says:

    It will be shame if Zanzibar will go the way Somalia is gone.
    Mjenga, I agree with you brother. But you must know muslims are different type of people they are not normal like other human beings.

  3. European tourist Says:

    You on Zanzibar must bring those responsible to justice and punish them. If not, you are putting the musch sought after american dollars and euros in jeopardy. We will not come to your island and spend money unless we can feel secure.

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