NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Five Muslims in eastern Uganda gang-raped the 17-year-old daughter of a pastor because the church leader ignored their warnings that he stop worship services, she said.
The daughter (name withheld) of the pastor of New Hope Church was approaching the church building at Kiryolo, Kaderuna Sub-County, Budaka District, at about 7:30 p.m. on March 28 when the men took her into bushes and assaulted her, an area church leader told Morning Star News. The site is about 300 yards from her home.
“The five Muslims took hold of me, and they raped me there,” she told the Morning Star News source. “I tried to scream, but they threatened to kill me. One of them said, ‘Your father should stop this prayer meeting of trying to change Muslims to become Christians and close the church building – we have warned him several times.’”
The suspects, whom she did not recognize, fled when church members arrived at the building for an all-night prayer vigil. They rushed her to a local medical clinic, and she later transferred to Mbale General Hospital.
Her father (name withheld) said her injuries are so serious that he would like to send her for specialized treatment at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala. He said she continues to be traumatized.
“The girl still has problems communicating,” he said. “She just says a few words and then keeps quiet. She needs trauma counseling.”
The pastor said he had received several threatening text messages.
“One of the short messages in my phone read, ‘Be you informed that we do not want your church in this area. If you continue worship here, then you will live to regret it,’” he said.
Budaka District is about 65 percent Muslim and has been the site of other attacks against Christians. Muslims make up only 11.5 percent of the total population Uganda, which is 85 percent Christian.
The pastor reported the case to police. Officers were investigating but there have been no arrests.
In the same district, Muslim schools recently declined to write letters of recommendation to students who have left Islam and wish to register at a Christian school, effectively blocking them from enrolling.
Hope of Glory Nursery and Primary School in Budaka District has received applications for enrollment from five Christians who left Islam so they can take primary seven exams, but the students require the letters of recommendation from the three Muslims schools they came from to enroll, said school director Hassan Muwanguzi.
“These schools rejected the registration of our students because they had left Islam and embraced the Christian faith,” Muwanguzi told Morning Star News.
Of the school’s 107 pupils, 58 are converts from Islam and 23 are Muslims, he said. The student population includes 10 orphans.
“Our school is like a safe haven for children who have been ostracized for choosing the Christian faith,” he said.
The private school is registered with the government but seeks funds in order to become accredited as a center where students can take high school entrance exams, he added.
“Our prayer is to get support so that our students will be able to be registered for exams in the future,” Muwanguzi said. “Our students can be registered in other private schools, but we do not have money to send them to such schools.”