The father of a young Muslim woman in east Uganda on Thursday (Nov. 12) tried to beat her to death after she became a Christian, but community leaders intervened and limited him to disowning her, sources said.
Kibida Muyemba learned that his 21-year-old daughter, Namusisi Birye, had put her faith in Christ at an evangelistic campaign held that day in Nandere village, Kadama Sub-county, Kibuku District, 41 kilometers (25 miles) west of Mbale, church leaders told Morning Star News. Birye and a man in the traditional dress of an imam confessed openly to receiving Christ, they said, and angry Muslims cut the event short.
Word of Birye’s conversion had reached her parents by the time she arrived home at 7 p.m., and her father began beating her, Birye said.
“My father had a wooden stick and started beating me as I entered the house,” she said. “As my mother was about to beat me also, the local council chairman, who was on his way to his home in Buluba, arrived and rescued me. Soon some neighbors who are Christians also arrived.”
Birye’s loud cries brought several neighbors to the site, a church leader said.
“As we arrived, the girl was bleeding, and her clothes had blood stains all over,” said the church leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons.
Birye’s father and mother, Amina Hasakya, were shouting furiously that she should be killed, he said.
“Our daughter must be killed according to Islam, because she has become apostate,” her father told those who came to her aid, the pastor said. “She can never be our daughter again.”
From 8 p.m. until midnight, Muyemba discussed his daughter’s fate with two church leaders, a neighbor and Mutaana Paul, the local council chairman, ending in Muyemba’s decision to formally disown her. Paul retained the written declaration of Muyemba’s decision to disown her, the church leader said.
“I then decided to take the girl to my house, and she is now recuperating after being disowned by her parents,” he said.
Police have not been contacted about the assault, he said.
“It would lead to more problems for the girl,” he said. “As long as the parents do not raise any further complaints, I will continue helping the girl with the hope that some good Samaritans will be touched to help her.”
Birye, who is suffering from serious rib pain, was being treated at a local clinic in Kabuna, Budaka District. She also sustained injuries to her right hand and bruises on her forehead.
The evangelistic event was jointly organized by a pastor from Kangalaba, Butaleja District, and Christians from Serere District. Five other people, from non-Muslim families, also put their faith in Christ at the event.
The identity and whereabouts of the man who appeared to be a mosque leader, believed to be from Nandere village, remained unclear. He and the six others had come forward to be prayed for when the furious Muslims disrupted the meeting, and he disappeared into the crowd, another area Christian leader said.
It was not known if he escaped the group of Muslims who cut the evangelistic event short, he said.
“If he managed to escape, the better, but if the Muslims caught hold of him, then he must be in danger,” he said. “He needs prayers.”
The bloodshed was the latest in a series of attacks on converts from Islam to Christianity in eastern Uganda. On Oct. 19 Muslims in Kalampete village, Kibuku District who were angry at a Christian for leaving Islam killed his wife, a month after his brother was killed for the same reason. Mamwikomba Mwanika, mother of three adult children and five others ranging in age from 17 to 9, died en route to a hospital after Muslims unknown to her dragged her from her home at about 9 p.m. and assaulted her, survivors said.
Her husband’s brother, Samson Nfunyeku, was killed in the village on Sept. 23 after flaring tempers cut short a religious debate he’d had with Islamic scholars.
In Nsinze village, Namutumba District, a Muslim beat and left for dead his wife and 18-year-old son on Aug. 11 after learning they had converted to Christianity, area sources said. Issa Kasoono beat and strangled his wife, Jafalan Kadondi, but she survived, said a source who requested anonymity. He said other relatives joined Kasoono in beating her and their two sons, Ibrahim Kasoono, 18, and Ismael Feruza, 16, though the younger son managed to escape with only bruises on his arm.
The wife of a former sheikh was poisoned to death on June 17 after she and her husband put their faith in Christ in Nabuli village, Kibuku District. Namumbeiza Swabura was the mother of 11 children, including a 5-month-old baby.
In Kiryolo, Kaderuna Sub-County, Budaka District on March 28, five Muslims gang-raped the 17-year-old daughter of a pastor because the church leader ignored their warnings that he stop worship services, 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.