AFRICA/TANZANIA - "The Church is object of persecution but the government does not intervene"

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Dar es Salaam (Agenzia Fides) - The recent attack carried out during the inauguration of the parish of St. Joseph the Worker in Arusha (see Fides 6 and 7 May, 2013) is only the latest in a series of acts of persecution against Christians in Tanzania. This was denounced by His Exc. Mgr. Tarcisius Ngalalekumwta, Bishop of Iringa and President of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania, during the homily at the funeral of the three victims of the attack.
In his speech he stresses how such barbaric acts are considered wild, shameful and unworthy of our Country. In addition, there have been intimidation against the Church and its leaders through publications, brochures, magazines, DVD, CD, radio. Threats which were followed by the burning of churches, attacks and assassinations against leaders of the Church."
In February Fr. Evarist Mushi (see Fides 18/02/2013) was killed in Zanzibar, while at Christmas another Catholic priest, Ambrose Mkenda had been seriously wounded in an ambush. In addition, some Christian churches were looted.
Mgr. Ngalalekumwta denounces in particular the violent propaganda by some extremist Muslim leaders against the Church, recalling for example the meeting held on January 15, 2011 by a group of Islam believers at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam, during which it was stated that Tanzania is "governed in a Christian way." This group also asked for the closure of the local Nunciature. "Their goal, according to their statements and their publications, is to eradicate Christianity," says Mgr. Ngalalekumwta
"What is really sad for us, is that our government has never condemned the claims and accusations of those people, nor arrested them" said the President of the Episcopal Conference.
Mgr. Ngalalekumwta after pointing out that extremists do not represent the majority of Tanzanian Muslims, concludes by pointing out that the process of nation-building is based on feelings of "peace, love, unity and solidarity that we have inherited from the founding fathers of the nation". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 22/05/2013)