Radical Muslims in eastern Uganda sprayed acid on their family members during an argument over their conversion from Islam to Christianity and were told, “You deserve death.” The family survived but remains in the hospital where they’re being treated for burns.
Reports surfaced last week that Muslim relatives had sprayed acid on three new converts — Juma Waiswa, 38, his 32-year-old wife, Nasimu Naigaga, and their 13-year-old daughter, Amina Nagudi — in Intonko village of Namutumba District, to punish them for putting their faith in Christ, according to Morning Star News.
One of the victims, Waiswa, said they converted to Christianity when a pastor visited their home and shared the Gospel on Feb. 17. When the relatives came to know about their conversion, they called them for a meeting with other clan members on March 8, he said.
“During the meeting, we were asked about our salvation, and we affirmed to them that we had believed in Jesus and converted to Christianity,” Waiswa was quoted as saying. “They told us to renounce Jesus, but we stood by the newly founded faith in Jesus.”
He continued: “When we refused to recant our faith in Jesus, my father, Arajabu, recited some Quranic verses, and after that they forcefully started beating us with sticks as prescribed in the Quran, claiming that we were apostates. As this was not enough, my father went inside the room and picked up a bottle of acid and began spraying it on us while the group started shouting, ‘Allah Akbar [Allah is greater], you deserve death,’ and then disowned us.”
The three victims didn’t realize initially that they had been sprayed with acid. “But as we were fleeing for our lives, we started feeling some serious itching that continued until the pain intensified,” Waiswa said. “A nearby Christian neighbor called the pastor, who arrived immediately and took us to hospital in Mbale, but our daughter was seriously affected and was referred to a hospital in Jinja.”
On March 9, their home was burned to the ground.
Four days later, in a separate incident, radical Muslim villagers attacked a former mosque leader, identified as Swaleh Mulongo of Bugobi village, for putting his faith in Christ after being evangelized by a pastor in January.
“It was around 8 a.m. when four Muslims stopped me and began asking me so many questions regarding Christianity, but I did not respond,” Mulongo was quoted as saying. “Then the men started beating me up with blows and sticks, but thank God when they saw some people approaching, they fled away.”
Mulongo suffered deep head wounds and his wrist was broken.
The radical Muslims then killed goats and chickens that were owned by the pastor who had led Mulongo to Christ.
Acid can disfigure a victim for life and has been used in revenge attacks mostly by men and particularly in Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom and Uganda, for various reasons, from disloyalty to saying “no” to a romantic relationship, according to the London-based Acid Survivors Trust International.
Under Ugandan law, the assailant in an acid attack can be sentenced up to seven years in prison, but “perpetrators are rarely charged,” said Linnet Kirungi, founder and director of the nonprofit Hope Care Rescue Mission, according to Chimp Reports.
“Of the over 200 acid attack survivors with whom I have worked in Uganda, only 20 percent of their perpetrators were charged or had any legal consequences for perpetrating the attack,” she told the outlet.
While most people in Uganda are Christian, some Eastern and Central regions in the country have higher concentrations of Muslims.
The Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project estimates that about 11.5% of Uganda’s population is Muslim, mostly Sunni. Armed attacks and murders of converts are not uncommon in the region.
“Radical Islam’s influence has grown steadily, and many Christians within the majority-Muslim border regions are facing severe persecution, especially those who convert from Islam,” a Voice of the Martyrs factsheet notes.
“Despite the risks, Evangelical churches in Uganda have responded by reaching out to their neighbors; many churches are training leaders how to share the Gospel with Muslims and care for those who are persecuted after they become Christians.”