Muslim in Eastern Uganda Kills Christian Wife for Leaving Islam, Relatives Say

Five children narrowly escape death.

Two children of slain Mariam Nakirya, photo altered for security reasons. (Morning Star News)

Two children of slain Mariam Nakirya, photo altered for security reasons. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Muslim in eastern Uganda strangled his wife to death this month for leaving Islam, relatives and neighbors said.

Awali Kakaire, 34, early in the morning on May 8 killed Mariam Nakirya for embracing Christianity in Mbaale village, Imanyiro Sub-County, Mayuge District, the area residents told Morning Star News. She was 30.

Kakaire, who has fled the area, began to suspect his wife was a Christian a month prior, after the local imam questioned him as to why his wife and children had not been attending mosque prayers, nor his children attending the madrassa (Islamic school). Kakaire questioned his children about it, said one of his sons, whose name is undisclosed for security reasons.

“Our father questioned us why we have stopped attending the madrassa, but we told him that we were busy with school work as our mother had instructed us,” he told Morning Star News. “Our mother told our father that she has been busy instructing us on school homework. This made my father to cool down his tempers.”

As Kakaire frequently traveled to Malaba on business, sometimes for a month at a time, the rest of the family was often able to attend a nearby church on Sundays.

On May 8 Kakaire awoke at 6 a.m., and after his Islamic cleansing ritual woke his wife for her to join him in morning Islamic prayers, their son said.

“Our mother refused, and our father started strangling her as she cried for help,” he said.

Kakaire left the house after killing her, and then returned two hours later and forced his five children, ages 5 to 12, into a hole he had dug in a nearby garden, his son said.

“We resisted and began screaming, and neighbors arrived immediately, but he had already dumped us into the hole that he had dug,” he said. “Seeing the neighbors, he tried to flee but he was overtaken and then began to be questioned by those who surrounded him.”

Kakaire’s brother, Michael Kirunda, told Morning Star News he and others were awakened by loud screaming from the house.

“Neighbors rushed to their home and found the children dumped into a hole,” Kirunda said. “He wanted to escape, but he could not find a way, hence we started questioning him about the children. ‘My family has no respect for Islam,’ he said in a loud outburst. We then proceeded into the house and found his wife dead.”

Muslim and Christian relatives of the deceased, along with some Christian neighbors, sought to lynch Kakaire, but some Muslims showed support for him. Police arrived with tear gas, guns and batons and brought calm.

“They dispersed us, and we left,” Kirunda said. “That evening some of the Muslims hurriedly buried Mariam.”

Nakirya had come to Christ in August 2015 after a series of visits from a door-to-door evangelist from a nearby church.

“The absence of the husband doing business away from his home for a length of time gave me good accessibility to ministering the Good News to Nakirya’s family,” the evangelist, whose name is undisclosed, told Morning Star News.

Relatives of Nakirya tried to ambush Kakaire several times before he fled. The couple’s two oldest children, ages 12 and 11, are with their grandmother, and the youngest three are with Kirunda.

The grandmother, identified only as 80-year-old Efulansi, said the children need food, educational and psychological support.

“The children are still traumatized and are crying for their mother,” she said.

About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

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