A Ugandan man who converted to Christianity from Islam over 10 years ago has accused his relatives of trying to poison him to death late last month as retribution for his conversion.
Hassan Muwanguzi told Morning Star News that his aunt invited him over to her house under the pretense of asking for prayer for her sick daughter.
"After eating and taking tea, I started feeling stomachache, then I realized that she was the one responsible for it – and I believe she did not do it alone, since they have been hunting for me directly and indirectly, because when I left them and converted to Christianity it pained them so much," Muwanguzi wrote in an email. "The reason they want to kill me is very clear – it is because of being a convert to Christianity; above all, to them it is like I brought shame by converting, as a [former] sheik. But to God the Almighty Father, this was His plan for me to expand His Kingdom."
Muwanguzi's aunt has denied that she tried to harm her nephew.
"He left my house without informing us," she told Morning Star News by phone. "It was after three days that a neighbor informed us that he is sick and admitted in the hospital."
Muwanguzi was served tea at his aunt's home on 7:30 p.m. on March 31. By 8 p.m. he surreptitiously tried to depart his relatives' house and was subsequently rushed to the hospital.
"When Hassan Muwanguzi was brought in to our clinic, he was not able to take in food, including liquids, as he had vomiting with abdominal cramps," Dr. Rashid, who believes that his patient was poisoned with an insecticide, told Morning Star News. "He had to be given [intravenous] drips. He looked confused with slurred speech. His vision was getting very poor, and he could not even recognize the friend who brought him in."
Muwanguzi left the hospital on April 7 with his treatments incomplete because of lack of funds to pay for his medical bills.
"We left yesterday in the evening hours due to lack of funds for treatment," Muwanguzi said. "I appeal to all brothers and sisters in the Lord to help me and send us some funds so I can I pay the medical bills and also to finish the treatment, because if I fail to continue and finish the treatment, then I may die and my family will perish."
The hostility with which Muwanguzi's family has treated him has not been limited to his alleged poisoning. His wife also left him following his 2003 conversion.
His community also reacted harshly; Muwanguzi lost his job at an Islamic School and a year later, after he opened a Christian school in a predominantly Muslim village, an Islamic teacher accused him of defiling his daughter.
The charges were dropped when the judge quickly discovered the accusations were groundless, but prior to that Muwanguzi was forced to pay 600,000 Uganda shillings ($246) in bail and spent three weeks in prison as the accusations were investigated. The sheikh who had accused him did not even show up to the case's three scheduled hearings.
Shortly after the situation resolved, the previous land owner of the school's property denied having sold Muwanguzi the land and the court subsequently forced him to shut down the school. Last year, his house was burned down.
"During that time I and my family escaped from the house by grace, but if it had not been so, then by now we would be no more," he said. "This attack was mobilized by Muslim sheikhs, imams and family members after hearing that I had converted to Christianity after studying and completing university with a degree in Islamic law."
The U.S. State Department reports that 85 percent of Ugandans are Christians, 12 percent Muslims, and remaining three percent Hindus, Jews, Bahais, or indigenous beliefs practitioners.