Uganda: Muslim mob kills former imam who converted to Christianity

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 mob of Muslim extremists in Uganda killed 41-year-old Yusuf Kintu, a former imam, a week after he converted to Christianity, according to International Christian Concern.

Kintu had engaged in several conversations about faith with Pastor Andrew Nyanma of the Full Gospel Church in Dolwe, Uganda, and after hearing the Gospel decided to become a Christian, Nyanma told ICC.

“We had been talking on several occasions but he was so argumentative when we touched on matters related to faith," Nyanma added. "He was a brilliant Muslim imam but also respected other people’s faith. On this day, he was calm and receptive. He gave me ... time to explain to him why Christ is the only way to the Father. He repented of his sins and committed to following Christ.” 

In Islam, imams lead the daily prayers at mosques, preach, lead worship and often help lead their community. Islamic scholars disagree on whether the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad support the death penalty for those who leave Islam, so-called "apostates."

Before he decided to follow Jesus, Kintu lived with his wife in a house close to his mosque. Three days after he became a Christian, his wife divorced him and left with two of their young children. She returned to her father’s home in Uganda’s Bugiri District, leaving him behind with his oldest son and daughter, Abudkriim and Sauda, ICC reported.

Kintu’s conversion enraged his community. Local Muslims formed a mob and beat him until he fell unconscious. His son and daughter couldn’t help him.

He was left on the ground until the next morning, when Nyanma arrived and took him to the hospital where he later died. 

Persecution has become more common recently among Muslim majority communities in Uganda, ICC reported. Most of the country's population is Christian and some 13.7% of Ugandans are Muslim. The country’s Constitution also supports freedom of religion and conversion.

“Each person shall have the right to freedom to practice any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organization in a manner consistent with this Constitution,” it reads.

Eastern Uganda holds the country’s largest Muslim population, and Christian persecution there has been on the rise and some have been attacked for saying Jesus is the son of God.

On Dec. 27, a mob of Muslims beat a pastor and his wife after another imam put his faith in Christ, Morningstar News reported.

“Many new Christians suffer at the hands of their families and former friends due to conversion,” ICC reported. “Yusuf is one of the few who [was] actually killed, but many suffer loss of livelihoods, family, homes, and property. Please pray for Yusuf’s family and those that attacked him. Pray that his witness might soften the hearts of those who hated him in the end.”

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