Originally published in Morning Star News
Christian family told they will be killed if they return to their home
Muslim villagers in eastern Uganda on November 23 destroyed the maize crops of a former Islamic sheikh (teacher) in eastern Uganda who was beaten unconscious after revealing his faith in Christ, sources said.
The day before his fields were destroyed, 30-year-old Malik Higenyi of Bufuja village, Butaleja District, received threatening messages on his mobile phone, he told Morning Star News.
“Be informed that you risk your life and that of the entire family if you happen to come back to your house,” read one anonymous text. “We curse you and your family. You are an apostate according to Islamic law, and you deserve to die.”
Higenyi, who along with his wife and two children secretly embraced Christ on April 16, made an open confession of faith at his church on November 13. News of his confession reached a mosque in nearby Lubanga village immediately, sources said.
“Before reaching my house, suddenly I was attacked by three people,” he told Morning Star News. “They started shouting, saying I am a disgrace to the Muslim fraternity of Lubanga mosque.”
Higenyi suffered a head wound and a broken bone in his right hand.
“The attackers hit me with a blunt object, and I fell down and did not know what happened from there,” he said. “I just found myself at Bufuja health center.”
Relatives ostracized him, and Local County 1 Chairman Walubi Mailadi supported their opposition to his conversion, sources said. Fearing attacks, he and his family have been unable to return to their thatched-roof home.
The family received Christ when a local pastor (name withheld for security reasons) visited his home and discipled him the following months.
Since Higenyi’s public confession, Muslims from Lubanga mosque have been holding meetings to discuss his punishment, and after Friday prayer meetings they have issued harsh statements against apostates, sources said.
Higenyi and his family are now without a home and have taken refuge at an undisclosed location.
“Please pray for Higenyi’s family at this difficult time, for they are emotionally troubled,” the pastor told Morning Star News.
The attacks are the latest in a series of aggressions against Christians in eastern Uganda. On October 20, Muslims in Kobolwa village, Kibuku District gutted the home of a Christian family for housing two boys who had been threatened with violence for leaving Islam.
Stephen Muganzi, 41, told Morning Star News that the two teenaged boys sought refuge with him on October 16 after their parents earlier in the month learned of their conversion, began questioning them and threatened to kill them. The two boys, ages 16 and 17, had secretly become Christians nearly seven months before.
On September 18, a Muslim in Budaka District beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service, sources said. Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons.
On August 10, a Christian woman in eastern Uganda became ill after she was poisoned, she said. Aisha Twanza, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, ingested an insecticide put into her food after family members upbraided her for becoming a Christian, she told Morning Star News. She and her husband, who live in Kakwangha village in Budaka District, put their faith in Christ in January.
In Busalamu village, Luuka District, eight children from four families have taken refuge with Christians after their parents beat and disowned them for leaving Islam or animism, sources said. The new-found faith of the children, ages 9 to 16, angered their parents, who beat them in an effort to deter them from sneaking to worship services, and on June 29 the young ones took refuge at the church building, area sources said.
About 85% of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11% Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.