Thierno Mbeugne claimed the Jehovah’s Witnesses were handing out not only literature, but crosses. One small problem: one prominent teaching of the religion is that Jesus died hanging from a vertical, pole-like structure, and not a cross in its common understanding as a lowercase “t” shape.
So, what were the Jehovah’s Witnesses handing out to Senegalese Muslims, then? Dowels? No, rather, this appears to be a lie expressly made up to incite the rampage, whether the imam got it on hearsay, or made it up himself. An update on this story. “Protesters burn church, destroy bar in Senegal,” from the Associated Press, June 26 (thanks to Opinionated for the story, and flagging the cross claim):
Hundreds of Muslim protesters descended on a Jehovah’s Witness temple and a bar in a conservative Muslim neighbourhood of the Senegalese capital, setting the buildings on fire.
It was a rare instance of religious extremism in this normally moderate Islamic republic.
Thierno Mbeugne, spokesman for the local imam association, said the head imam in the conservative Yoff district of Dakar had asked the youth to march on Sunday against what they considered as “acts of aggression against their faith”.
Copy of The Watchtower = “act of aggression.”
They were targeting the temple because they claim its members were proselytising, and the bar because it was selling alcohol.
He said the Islamic religious leaders did not endorse the violence, “but they do think that the youth were right” to destroy the church and the bar.
One of the rioters Mame Faye, 24, explained that the mob set upon the temple while churchgoers were praying inside before setting upon the bar.
Other witnesses, however, said that the hundreds of protesters burst into the establishment and began drinking the cans of beer. They then stripped the building, making off with the refrigerator, the air conditioners and the furniture. Then they set it on fire.
A doctor who spoke on the condition of anonymity said his clinic had treated 37 people, including several wounded police officers. One had a stab wound. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Mbeugne claimed that the head of the temple had been actively trying to convert locals. He said that under the cover of teaching English, she had started handing out crosses and Jehovah’s Witness literature.