Growing Islamisation and Islamist violence are making life more difficult for Tanzanian Christians even though they comprise around 60% of the population, and Muslims only 36%. As one Christian leader said, “We cannot [bear to see our people being attacked, killed, injured and arrested unlawfully and this is becoming normal in our national daily life!”
Although Muslims are a minority population, many of the key posts in politics, the judiciary, education and business are held by them. Islamisation across the country’s mainland is also affecting authorisations for church buildings. Last year local authorities in Bukoba refused to allow a church to be rebuilt because the area is solely for residential purposes although there are three mosques in the same area. Numerous churches have been burned to the ground. Last September, the local Muslim community ordered the Christians to evacuate a church building because they were disturbed by their singing. Their church was then torched. The government has also banned hundreds of NGOs, some of them churches and Christian organisations, because they “interfere withother faith affairs’.
There is a proposal to introduce Kadhi (slamic courts, which already exist inthe 98% Muslim Zanzibar archipelago, across the mainland. These courts would deal with family matters, such as marriage, divorce and inheritance, for Tanzania’s Muslim population, undermining existing secular judicial systems. Presidential elections held in October were annulled in Zanzibar and are set to be rescheduled.
Converts from Islam in Zanzibar are extremely vulnerable to violent attack, even by their own family members. In mainland Tanzania, Christians have been attacked and killed by mobs of radical Muslims, and church leaders are particularly vulnerable to attack. Some believers have been arrested for slaughtering their own livestock to eat, although there are no laws to restrict this.
Give thanks for the courage of converts to Christianity, particularly in the Zanzibar archipelago, to stand firm in their faith despite the threat of rejection and violence. Pray for peaceful relationships between Christians and Muslims across the country, particularly now as the country currently works towards the creation of a new constitution. Pray also that God will protect His people from harm. Lift up in prayer the families of those who have been attacked and killed; ask the Lord to comfort them and to drive away fear. Pray that the government will be wise in the laws that it is implementing.