ZANZIBAR — As President Barack Obama wraps up his outreach tour to Africa, Christians in Tanzania are hoping he will speak out against increased acts of persecution against them.
Obama visits Tanzania Monday where he will meet with President Jakaya Kikwete and the nation’s business leaders.
The allure of beautiful beaches and tranquil ocean waters draw 100,000 tourists to the island of Zanzibar each year.
Visitors and their money are welcomed to the Tanzanian paradise, but this East African island is influenced by Islamic extremism has a dark past and a troubling present.
Several hundred years ago when Arab traders first arrived on the island, they were quick to enslave the local population.
Fast forward to 2013, there are no longer slaves, but today Christians are suffering. Churches have been attacked and Christians leaders threatened.
Last February, a Catholic priest was killed outside a church.
“I heard a crowd of people chanting ‘Allahu Akbar,’ ‘Takbir’ (Allah is greater), and ‘destroy this church of infidels,'” Bishop Dickson Kaganga said.
In May 2012, Bishop Kaganga helped church members flee a Saturday evening prayer meeting as an angry mob approached. He remained behind in a church office.
“They were saying, ‘This pastor comes here every Saturday, maybe he’s here. Look for him, where is he?'” Kaganaga recalled. “They were saying, ‘We don’t want a church here, we don’t want Christianity in Zanzibar.'”
The Muslim extremists never found Bishop Kaganga, but they destroyed his car and set fire to chairs and church equipment inside the building.
“I know they oppose the church, they oppose Christ, Jesus doing signs and wonders,” he said. “Muslims are convinced to come to Christianity so, they attack because they don’t want this.”
It’s not only happening in Zanzibar, church attacks have also spread to the Tanzanian mainland.
In the town of Arusha last May an attack left one person dead and 40 injured.
Author Raymond Ibrahim warned extremists are now waging jihad in African countries that have a high percentage of Christians.
“It’s a resurgent Islamic mentality which is, it’s just everywhere and now in Tanzania, of course, which earlier you never thought of being a radical nation,” he said.
Church leaders say attacks and threats have actually strengthened the Tanzanian body of Christ.
As for Bishop Kaganga’s church, services resumed after repairs were made. He encouraged Zanzibarian Christians to remain focused on God.
“He is faithful to us and we will endure and we will pass through this and we will become victorious and many good things will happen, so I don’t want people to cry. Let’s rejoice,” he said.
Posted by Theodore Shoebat