“Radicals” on the Muslim-majority island of Zanzibar recently targeted two churches for persecution, through legal means and otherwise.
They drove Pastor Philemon, a father of five, into hiding and took over his New Covenant Church’s worship hall by getting the landlord to rent it to them before the church’s lease ended. Once a congregation of 100, members now account for 25. “The church faithful are so scattered,” said Philemon. “Some members are always knocking at my door requesting a place for worship.” The pastor is also helping care for several converts from Islam who fled their homes due to persecution and is struggling financially to help them while also providing for his own family, which includes five children.
Just outside Zanzibar City, in Chukwani, Muslims made false land claims in order to bleed another church dry with legal costs. Said Pastor Lukanula: “The Muslims are waiting for the time when we shall fail to attend the court hearing, implying losing the case and subsequently having to pay a substantial amount of money.” Before the false claims regarding ownership of the land were made, the leader of a local mosque told the pastor, “We do not want to see a church building here in Chukwani.” And in 2007, area Muslims demolished the original structure under construction.