Originally published in barnabasaid
Over 120 members of an Islamic separatist group have been arrested in Tanzania in connection with Muslim riots in which a number of churches were attacked and torched.
Violence erupted in the Mbagala suburbs of Dar es Salaam on 12 October. At least three churches were burned down, and others attacked. Church members’ property and cars were damaged, and shop windows smashed.
During the following night, the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania Church was pulled down, and a flag belonging to UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation) raised at the scene.
Police arrested 122 members of UAMSHO in connection with the riots.
A local pastor said, “The churches are in great fear from UAMSHO separatist Islamist group fearing riots can erupt again.”
The violence was sparked by an incident on 10 October involving a Christian boy and a Muslim boy, in which the former was drawn into committing an act considered by Muslims to be desecration of the Quran.
The Muslim boy told his parents, who reported it to the local mosque. A mob formed at the scene, threatening to kill the Christian boy.
Alerted to the danger, the police took the Christian boy into protective custody. The angry Muslim mob then stormed the police station, demanding he be handed over to them for punishment.
Council of Islamic Organisations secretary general Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda blamed the subsequent violence on “police laxity”, saying that they had “failed to give the matter its due weight”.
Incidents of anti-Christian hostility are on the rise in Tanzania, especially in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, which is predominantly Muslim and where radical Islam is spreading violence.
Earlier this year, UAMSHO attacked churches and other Christian property in riots that started in Stone Town on 26 May.
The Islamist group wants Zanzibar to become independent from mainland Tanzania.