(Morning Star News) – Sheikh Hassan Podo, a 28-year-old imam in Kerekerene village in eastern Uganda, missed mosque prayers for three consecutive weeks and was seen entering a church building around noon on March 16.
He had kept his faith in Christ a secret for three weeks. The young Muslim who saw Podo enter the church building in Katira Sub-County, Budaka District, went straight to Podo’s parents and brothers to report him.
When Podo arrived at the house that evening, his family interrogated him about where he had spent the better part of the day.
“Without my completing answering them, my brothers immediately began surrounding me, with sticks,” Podo told Morning Star News. “It was difficult to escape. They began shouting, beating and insulting me as an ‘infidel’ and enemy of the Islamic religion.”
His wife and two children managed to escape to the home of a nearby Christian neighbor, he said.
With sticks and other blunt objects, Podo’s relatives injured his left arm from the shoulder to his fingers, said one of the area residents who found him unconscious. He also sustained a head injury.
“There was a loud cry emanating from Podo’s homestead, raising a big concern from the neighbors who arrived at the scene of attack and helped Podo to escape,” the source said. “He bled as he fled for his life. Later he was found in a pool of blood a kilometer away from the homestead, unconscious.”
They rushed him to a clinic in Katira, and he was discharged after two days and taken to a pastor whose name is withheld for security reasons. His wife and two children later joined him at an undisclosed location.
The pastor said Podo’s father, Mwanamwoiza Juma, has since mobilized a group of Muslims from different mosques “to hunt for the life of his son, declaring a fatwa and disowning him, and giving his land to the brothers for bringing blasphemy into the family. Sheikh Twale and Galami Abdulmutwalibi have been carrying out a series of prayers to curse Podo’s family. But we know the blood of Jesus will protect the family.”
The pastor has been giving Podo discipleship lessons to strengthen the family’s faith in the midst of the ordeal, he said.
Podo put his faith in Christ on Feb. 24 after hearing the message of His saving death and resurrection from another pastor. His wife became a Christian one week later, he said.
Before his conversion, Podo was part of a Muslim extremist group that had attacked the Church of Uganda’s Katira congregation.
“Please family of Christ, our humble request is that we covet prayers for Podo and his young family for God’s healing, medication, protection, provision and to get to a safe haven for the young family,” the pastor said.
The attacks were the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.