By Michael Ireland, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
UGANDA (ANS — June 28, 2016) — Morning Star News (www.morningstarnews.org) reports the Muslim father of a 9-year-old boy in eastern Uganda, who put his faith in Christ this month, tied his son to a tree and burned him.
According to the Morning Star News East Africa Correspondent, sources said Nassif Malagara of the Kakira Parish area, Kisozi Sub-County, Kamuli District decided to become a Christian after a neighbor took him to visit a church in another village, undisclosed for security reasons, on June 5.
“At the end of the service, Nassif remained behind and then followed me to the church’s pastry room and requested that he wanted to receive Jesus as his personal savior,” the pastor of the church told Morning Star News. “I was a bit hesitant, but after his continuous press, I then prayed with him, and he left.”
Morning Star News reported that Nassif subsequently declined to participate in any Muslim activities, including attending a madrassa (Islamic school), the pastor said. His father, 36-year-old Abubakar Malagara, and stepmother, Madina Namwaje, 35, became furious when they learned he had converted to Christianity, the pastor said.
The boy told Morning Star News that his parents prohibited him from eating, beyond the day-time fast of Ramadan, so that he went without food for two days before sneaking to his neighbor’s house for food. He brought food back to his home over the next few days, and on June 9 his father caught him eating.
“He started beating me up with sticks, but I managed to escape to a nearby bush,” Nassif said. “My father then followed me and got hold of me back to the homestead, where he tied me up to a banana tree. He went into the house and came back with a hot piece of wood. The banana tree had dry leaves, which caught fire and caused serious burns on my body.”
Morning Star News said neighbors heard his screams for help and rescued him, and took him to Kamuli Hospital. The hospital’s Walwawo Zubari told Morning Star News that Nassif had burns on several parts of his body.
“Nassif has been recovering, but at a very slow pace,” Zubari said. “He might need to be referred to another hospital for specialized treatment.”
A relative told Morning Star News that she hopes to take custody of Nassif after his release from the hospital.
Area residents alerted Kisozi Police Post, and officers arrested Malagara, registering the case under reference number CRR044/2016. Malagara, who attends Nankaduro mosque, has been released on bail.
The neighbor (name withheld for security reasons) who introduced Nassif to the church said he fears for his life after receiving a threatening text message on his phone.
“We know that you are behind the conversion of Nassif to Christianity,” the message read. “You will soon reap what you have sown, which will be a lesson to others. Islam is against such conversion.”
The sender blocked his identity, but the neighbor said he suspects Malagara might have used another Muslim’s phone to send the message.
Morning Star News explained that 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.
Kamuli District is about 220 kilometers (136 miles) from Mbale Town in eastern Uganda.
Nassif’s case comes after a Christian in eastern Uganda who had received death threats from Muslims after a religious discussion was killed on June 4. The body of Yokannah Zirinkuma of Kasasira village, Kibuku District, was found in a pool of blood in nearby Kadama village, near the home of the primary suspect. Zirinkuma was 50.
PHoto captions: 1) Islamic persecution of Christians in Uganda. 2) Michael Ireland.
About the writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net) since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia.
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