Muslim Relatives Beat, Starve Christians in Eastern Uganda

Convert escapes being set on fire; mother and child locked in room.

Relatives were waiting for Mustafa Obbo when he returned home to Tororo, Uganda on Oct. 19, 2021. (Morning Star News)

Relatives were waiting for Mustafa Obbo when he returned home to Tororo, Uganda on Oct. 19, 2021. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – A Christian woman and her young son on Monday (Oct. 18) escaped the bedroom where her Muslim husband had starved them for two weeks, a day before another Christian convert was beaten but escaped being set aflame, sources said.

Muslim relatives on Tuesday (Oct. 19) beat Mustafa Obbo with sticks in eastern Uganda’s Tororo town, Tororo District after he had rushed from Mbale to his mother’s home upon hearing that she was seriously ill, said Obbo, a former sheikh (Islamic teacher). It was his first visit home since threats and violence from relatives for leaving Islam drove him from the area in 2018, he said.

He had notified his brother about returning to Tororo, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Mbale, to visit their mother, and his brother alerted other relatives that Obbo was returning home, he said.

“I thought they had forgotten all about my conversion,” Obbo told Morning Star News. “As I arrived home, my dad and uncles ambushed me, tied me up and flogged me with several long sticks and said they were going to kill me if I did not recant my Christian faith.”

His older brother was also among the assailants, he said. As they beat him, he said, he felt he was going to lose his life.

“But by grace, as they were sending someone for petrol to burn me up, a Toyota vehicle was approaching the homestead,” Obbo said. “When they saw the vehicle entering the compound, they took off each in his direction.”

A former classmate arrived with food for his ailing mother, found him and untied him, he said. Obbo sustained injuries to both legs, including a bone fracture in one, along with a back injury, bleeding and swelling, but he managed to mount his motorcycle and drive away, he said.

Fearing retaliation from his family or other Muslims, he has not reported the assault to police, he said.

Obbo had converted to Christianity in Mbale after a pastor told him about Christ. His family soon noticed that he had stopped the five ritual prayers each day.

“My family organized a meeting and questioned why I was not attending the mosque,” he told Morning Star News. “I told them that I had not been feeling well, and the meeting ended.”

While in the house, however, he received two phone calls from Christian friends, and Obbo answered “Amen” to their exclamations of, “Praise Jesus,” he said. Thinking his relatives were out of earshot, he told the callers, “God bless you,” and “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” he said.

“I didn’t know that my dad was listening,” Obbo said. “He got a stick and hit me on my shoulders while calling me a deceiver. I managed to escape. Since 2018 I had not returned back.”

Locked in Room

In Kakoro village, Butebo District, also in eastern Uganda, Jafalan Muduwa on Monday (Oct. 18) escaped from the room in which her Muslim husband had locked her and her 8-year-old son on Oct. 5 after discovering she was a Christian, she said.

“My husband received a call in the morning from his business partner that he needed him urgently,” Muduwa told Morning Star News. “He forgot to lock the door, and there we managed to escape back to my family with my son.”

Her husband, Musa Abukhuraira, locked their child in the room with her as he had no one to take care of him. Severely malnourished after receiving just small pieces of bread for 13 days, Muduwa and her son fled to a location undisclosed for security reasons.

“People were very shocked to see the state we were in,” Muduwa said. “I thank God that we’re still alive. I cannot think rightly at the moment. We need prayers so that God my restore back our health.”

Mother and son have received no medical treatment, but she sold some chicken to help pay for medicine, Muduwa said.

Abukhuraira had found two Bibles inside her bag, one a local-language translation, on Oct. 5 while she was fetching water, she said. Her husband was at their door when she returned.

“As I entered the room, he slapped me, then pulled out the bag and removed two Bibles and started questioning me concerning the Bibles,” Muduwa said.

She kept quiet as he continued slapping her several times, she said.

“When I realized that he could kill me, I told him that the Bibles were mine,” she said. “He started reciting Koranic verses and labeling me a blasphemous wife. He continued beating me with a stick, and also beat our child. After that he locked us up in the room whenever he left the home. He gave us only a little piece of bread.”

Muduwa came to faith in Christ on Kirewe Island on Lake Victoria, where the family was living starting in 2019. When a COVID-19 lockdown was declared while her husband was away on business, he remained in Mbale for nearly a year while she and her son grew destitute, she said.

“I made a decision to go to a church to seek support,” Muduwa told Morning Star News. “The pastor prayed for us as well as gave us food support. He also shared the love of Christ. After six months I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior of my life.”

The pastor gave her two Bibles and pointed her toward passages about God’s love and providence, she said.

The family returned to their home in Kakoro village earlier this year, she said. Muduwa remained a secret Christian, reading the Bible only when her husband was away.

The assault and captivity have yet to be reported to police.

The assaults were the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

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