Threats from hard-line Muslims and the rape of her 13-year-old daughter forced a Christian mother and her five children to flee their village in eastern Uganda last week, sources said.
Amina Napiya, a 42-year-old widow, fled her home in Nakajete village, Budaka Town Council, on Wednesday (March 16). Budaka Town Council is a municipality of Budaka, 132 miles northeast of Uganda's capital, Kampala.
Napiya and her five children fled after receiving a text message on Wednesday that the family would be killed for leaving Islam, she said.
"We have warned you several times, and our warnings are falling on deaf ears," the anonymous text message read. "We are on the way coming for you and your children."
She had become a Christian in 2014 after the death of her husband, Mohammed Dongo, who had been a driver at the Palissa town Ministry of Works. She and her family remained secret believers until the beginning of this year, when relatives discovered they were following Christ.
On Jan. 15 two motorcycles that had belonged to her late husband were stolen, apparently by Muslim relatives, she said. The thieves left an unsigned note reading, "We have taken the motorcycles, and soon we are coming for your life if you continue embarrassing the religion of the family. You have become an embarrassment to the family as well as the Muslim family."
Napiya's daughter was raped on Feb. 25 while fetching firewood a kilometer from their home at about 4:30 p.m., the widow said. Napiya believes relatives may have hired Taika Suleiman, arrested in connection with the alleged rape, to assault her daughter because of their faith, as her daughter told her that the rapist said, "This is the second warning to your mother for disgracing the faith of the Muslims."
The girl, whose name is undisclosed, said she was unable to escape.
"I tried to cry for help, but the man was too powerful," she told Morning Star News. "Later a neighbor arrived at the scene, but the man had fled away."
After Napiya reported the case at Budaka police station (Reference No. CRB 77/2016), officers arrested Suleiman. A police station officer said that Suleiman has not been charged, and that the judge handling the case has been transferred and a new magistrate has just begun.
Napiya said that especially threatening her were two neighbors, Pakoyo Mubaraka and Kataike Mwajuma, and a relative, Musa Opio.
The family has taken refuge in the home of an undisclosed woman who said she is unable to adequately care for them.
"The burden is quite heavy on me," she said.
Napiya's other children are ages 4, 6, 8 and 10.
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.
Recent attacks on Christians in eastern Uganda have shown threats are to be taken seriously. On Jan. 10, relatives of Abdu Nsera, a recent high school graduate in Katende village near Busede, Jinja District, beat him after finding out he had left Islam to become a Christian. They burned down a house they had built for him and have been searching for him after he fled.
On Jan. 27 in Numuseru village, Naboa Sub-County in Budaka District, the body of Laurence Maiso was found at his house, his head in a pool of blood. Four days earlier, Imam Kamulali Hussein had met him and his wife on a local road and told him, "Allah is about to send to you the Angel of Death in your house. Please prepare to meet him at any time."
On Dec. 23, 2015, a pastor in eastern Uganda was hacked to death as he and other church members resisted an effort by Muslims to take over their land in Nansololo village near Mazuba, in Namutumba District, area church leaders said. Pastor Bongo Martin is survived by a widow and two children.
In another area of eastern Uganda, five underground Christians in a predominantly Muslim village, including a pregnant mother, died from a pesticide put into their food after a Bible study on Dec. 18, area sources said. The Bible study took place in Kachomo village, Kachomo Sub-County, Budaka District at the home of Hajii Suleiman Sajjabi, a convert from Islam who had begun the study with eight family members who had come to faith in Christ under his influence.
Four of Sajjabi's relatives have died, as did a pregnant neighbor, according to area sources. A doctor at Mbale Regional Hospital said a postmortem test showed a substance known as Malathion, a low-toxicity pesticide, in those who had died. Though low-level toxic, Malathion when ingested quickly metabolizes into highly toxic Tomalaoxon.
Islamic extremists in eastern Uganda on Dec. 8 set a deadly trap for a Christian policeman who had left Islam, and the next day other hard-line Muslims kidnapped three children from another convert in a nearby village. More than 20 Muslim extremists in the Komodo area of Kadama Sub-County, Kibuku District, killed officer Ismail Kuloba at about 4 p.m. after he responded to an urgent call to intervene in a supposed land dispute between warring parties, an area Christian told Morning Star News. Kuloba was 43.
One of the assailants, Mudangha Kasimu, threw a stone that hit Kuloba in the forehead. Kasimu then shot him twice in the head, and he died as other Muslims were shouting, 'Allah Akbar [God is greater],'" sources said.
About 12 miles east in Kabuna, near Budaka in Kaderuna District, a group of Muslim men from Palissa on Dec. 9 kidnapped three children of Madengho Badir, a Christian convert from Islam, sources said. Badir, 42, arrived at his home in Kabuna Sub-County, Kabuna parish, at 10 p.m. to find 5-year-old Nabukwasi Shakira, 7-year-old Gessa Amuza and 10-year-old Wagti Musitafa missing.
An area source said a 14-year-old boy from Kabuna, Karami Hassan, was with Badir's three children when they were abducted near their home. The boy said a group of Muslims from Palissa were looking for Badir, and the boy led them to Badir's children.
Outside of Kabeshai, near Palissa, a Christian father of five who supported 10 children whose families had disowned them for leaving Islam was killed on Dec. 2. One of three men who attacked Patrick Ojangole reproached him for failing to heed a warning to cease his Christian activities before the Christian was killed, said a witness who was with Ojangole and escaped. Ojangole was 43.
On Nov. 12, the father of a young Muslim woman in east Uganda 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.
On Oct. 19, 2015, 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, 2015 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, 2015, 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.