Former Muslim’s 60-Year-Old Mother Attacked in Uganda for Putting Faith in Christ

Islamist relatives threatened to kill 30-year-old convert son.

Malik Higenyi has been unable to return to his home. (Morning Star News)

Malik Higenyi has been unable to safely return to his home. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Relatives of a former Islamic teacher attacked his 60-year-old mother on Thursday (Dec. 8) for becoming a Christian, wounding her head and breaking her hand, sources said.

Aimuna Namutongi sustained a deep cut on her forehead. She and her son, 30-year-old Malik Higenyi, were trying to gather cassava at 10 a.m. on the homestead he had been forced to abandon in Bufuja village, Butaleja District, after Muslim relatives threatened to kill him if he returned.

Higenyi, whom Muslim relatives had beaten unconscious on Nov. 13 after he publically confessed having embraced Christianity, managed to escape the fury of those who arrived at his farm on Thursday (Dec. 8) while he and his mother were trying to harvest something to eat, he told Morning Star News.

Namutongi became a Christian after visiting her ostracized, injured  son on Nov. 26 and listening to his faith journey, a local source said. He has continued to receive threatening messages, he said.

“We had warned you to stop winning Muslims to your newfound faith of Christianity, but instead you have decided to ignore this warning,” read an anonymous message to Higenyi, apparently from one of the relatives. “You will regret what will befall you soon.”

When Higenyi and his mother decided to check on the farm on Thursday and see if they could gather some food, a relative spotted them and alerted other relatives, who rushed to the homestead, he said.

“When I saw the furious relatives, I managed to escape,” Higenyi told Morning Star News. “I thought my mother was safe and that her conversion was still hidden, only to hear one of them telling her, ‘We heard that you joined Christianity.’”

As they continued to interrogate his mother about her conversion, Higenyi called police from the nearby Nabiganda police post, he said.

“When the police approached the scene, one of the relatives struck the right hand of my elderly mother while the rest started fleeing,” Higenyi said.

Police took Namutongi to a health center in Nabiganda and arrested several suspects. The case has been registerered with Reference No. SD REF/14/8/12/2016.

Higenyi and his family, including wife and two children, remain homeless and without food but have taken refuge at an undisclosed site. Higenyi and his family secretly embraced Christ on April 16. News of his Nov. 13 confession reached a mosque in nearby Lubanga village immediately, and that day three Muslims attacked him at his house, he said. He sustained a head wound and a broken bone in his right hand.

Muslim relatives on Nov. 23 also destroyed his maize crops, he said.

The attacks are the latest in a series of aggressions against Christians in eastern Uganda. On Oct. 20, Muslims in Kobolwa village, Kibuku District gutted the home of a Christian family for housing two boys who had been threatened with violence for leaving Islam.

Stephen Muganzi, 41, told Morning Star News that the two teenaged boys sought refuge with him on Oct. 16 after their parents earlier in the month learned of their conversion, began questioning them and threatened to kill them. The two boys, ages 16 and 17, had secretly become Christians nearly seven months before.

On Sept. 18, a Muslim in Budaka District beat his wife unconscious for attending a church service, sources said. Hussein Kasolo had recently married Fatuma Baluka, 21-year-old daughter of an Islamic leader in a predominantly Muslim village, undisclosed for security reasons.

On Aug. 10, a Christian woman in eastern Uganda became ill after she was poisoned, she said. Aisha Twanza, a 25-year-old convert from Islam, ingested an insecticide put into her food after family members upbraided her for becoming a Christian, she told Morning Star News. She and her husband, who live in Kakwangha village in Budaka District, put their faith in Christ in January.

In Busalamu village, Luuka District, eight children from four families have taken refuge with Christians after their parents beat and disowned them for leaving Islam or animism, sources said. The new-found faith of the children, ages 9 to 16, angered their parents, who beat them in an effort to deter them from sneaking to worship services, and on June 29 the young ones took refuge at the church building, area sources 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, but Christians in eastern Uganda are suffering continual attacks by non-state figures.

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