4 relatives of Ugandan Christian convert burned to death by Muslim radicals

A church bell hangs from a tree branch outside a Catholic church and a school in Odek village, Uganda.
A church bell hangs from a tree branch outside a Catholic church and a school in Odek village, Uganda. | (PHOTO: REUTERS/JAMES AKENA)

A Christian convert in the East African country of Uganda is suffering tremendous grief after four members of his family — including his two children — were killed when suspected Muslim extremists set their home on fire. 

Sources told Morning Star News, a nonprofit persecution watchdog outlet, that 36-year-old Ali Nakabale lost his son, daughter, mother and stepfather when they were burned alive inside the family’s home on Aug. 20.

Nakabale lives near Uganda’s capital of Kampala in the Nakaseke district. Nakabale’s wife and other Muslims in the area were angered over the fact that Nakabale and his 56-year-old mother had accepted faith in Christ. 

According to Nakabale, he and his mother gave their lives to Christ at an evangelism event in August 2018. 

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Nakabale was not home at the time his house was set on fire because he was visiting his aunt. But after he was told that his house was on fire, Nakabale immediately hurried home.

“Upon arriving home, I found the house destroyed by fire that burned my four family members, including my two children,” he told Morning Star News. “On reaching the mortuary, I found their bodies burned beyond recognition.”

Along with Hamidah, other victims of the arson attack include Hamidah’s husband, Joseph Masembe; Nakabale’s 9-year-old daughter, Afsa Lawada; and his 6-year-old son, Yakubu Njabuga. 

A neighbor who remained anonymous told Morning Star News that he became aware of the blaze around 1 a.m. on Aug. 20. 

“We saw fire emanating from the house of Hamidah with loud chants from Muslims shouting, ‘Allah Akbar [God is greater],’” the neighbor said. “Arriving at the scene of the incident, we found that the house had been razed down, killing the four family members.”

Nakabale said he, his mother and stepfather have attended a secret church since December 2018.

According to Nakabale, his wife and relatives discovered his new faith in May after his young son innocently told his mother about his experience at an evening worship service he attended with Nakabale. 

“When my wife began beating my son, condemning his action of going to church, then I knew our visit to the evening prayers had leaked,” Nakabale revealed. “The same day my wife walked out of the marriage and left the home. We got scared because we knew that our lives were in danger. For three months, no Muslims visited our home.”

Nakabale told Morning Star News that Muslim extremists were “monitoring” the family’s movements. He explained that Masembe had previously received a letter from a local mosque leader voicing concern about his lack of attendance since he married Hamidah. Nakabale said that he reported the deaths of his family members to local police.

“Nakabale is depressed and is questioning God on the brutal deaths of his two little children,” an unnamed source told Morning Star News. “He needs counseling and prayers at this difficult moment.”

Although Christians make up the majority of Uganda’s population, there’s been a history of attacks against Muslim converts to Christianity by the Muslim community. Muslims make up about 12 percent of the country.

In July, a Christian widow was reportedly driven from her home in central Uganda when she received threats for asking a Christian pastor to bury her husband. To local Muslims, it became clear that the widow and her husband had abandoned their Islamic faith. 

Muslim leaders gave the widow one day to recant her Christian faith. Instead, she fled the community. 

In August 2018, it was reported that a church in the Wakiso district was forced to close after months of attacks and intimidation by Islamic radicals who stoned members of the congregation and their pastor, Moreen Sanyu of Greater Love Church, who was hospitalized for two days. 

Another pastor in Uganda, Tom Palapandein from Butaleja district, was knocked unconscious in July 2018 when angry Muslims threw rocks at his head during a village debate. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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