Muslim villagers in eastern Uganda on Jan. 30 beat a Christian unconscious upon seeing him prepare a site for an evangelistic event, and they later set his house ablaze, sources said.
The 34-year-old father of three children, Philemon Shuha, was helping to set up an open-air evangelistic event with Titus Waniyaye, 25, in a heavily populated industrial area 3 kilometers from Nabiganda village, Butaleja District, when he was attacked, Waniyaye said.
Shuha and Waniyaye spent the mornings of Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 distributing invitations to the evangelistic event. Many people had begun arriving as the two Christians were waiting for the rest of their team to join them when they heard a clamor among some Muslims.
Waniyaye said the Muslim villagers asked, “Why did you give out Christian literature to our people? Have you come to kill Islam by converting our people? Today you can’t go unpunished.”
“They then grabbed Philemon,” Waniyaye told Morning Star News. “Good enough I was a bit far off. I feared for my life and there and then fled for my survival.”
He mobilized a group of mostly Christian motorcyclists to rescue Shuha, he said.
“Soon we arrived at the scene of the incident, and the attackers fled in different directions,” Waniyaye said. “We found Shuha almost lifeless and unconscious and lying in a pool of blood. He had a deep cut on the right side of the head near the ear and blood coming from his right hand. He could not open his eyes.”
They brought him to a Christian health center in Nabiganda, where he received first aid and medication, and from there a church van transferred him to a hospital in Busolwe town, he said. From his hospital bed, Shuha that night told Morning Star News that he was able to identify one of the assailants as Swaliki Swaleh of the Busolwe mosque.
Later, shortly after 10:30 p.m., Waniyaye received a phone call from Shuha’s wife saying that her house was on fire, he said.
“The church members who were with me in the hospital urgently rushed to the home of Shuha using the church van, but upon arrival the house was on fire,” he told Morning Star News. “We tried to put out the fire, but unfortunately a big portion of the house had been destroyed.”
He and others mounted a search and found the arsonist in a sugarcane plantation, he said.
“We interrogated him as to why he had burned the house, and he said that he had been given 500,000 Uganda shillings [USD129] by the Muslims to go and destroy Shuha’s house,” Waniyaye told said.
The suspect is in police custody, he said.
Shuha’s wife and three children, ages 10, 7 and 5, managed to escaped unhurt and have taken refuge at their church building. Shuha was still receiving hospital care at this writing.
Shuha’s house is located about 3 kilometers from Busolwe town.
His church had planned a five-day outreach to Muslims for Jan. 28-Feb. 2 in Nabiganda, Kapisa, Leresi and Nampologoma villages. Shuha and Waniyaye spent the mornings of Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 distributing invitations to the evangelistic event.
The attack was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.