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Imam in Eastern Uganda Faces Wrath of Muslims after Putting Faith in Christ

Hassan Podo, former sheikh beaten after his family learned he had become a Christian (Photo: Morning Star News/Google Map)

(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.

Christians, Ahmadis and a TV station: new victims of the blasphemy law

Fatwa:   “A legal opinion or decree handed down by an Islamic religious leader”  So paint it like you want, a Fatwa is a declaration that both explains religious texts and calls for Sharia law to be followed.  In this case a Fatwa was issued by several clerics calling for Geo TV to be arrested and tried for Blasphemy.  Christians in Pakistan are experiencing tremendous persecution, unable to even speak the name of Christ.  They are not allowed freedom to even go into the markets, as they are singled out for attacks simply because they are Christian.  In the other case spoken of below,  by the Fides Agency, Christians who simply witnessed to others in a train station, and were accused of hurting  the feelings of Muslims by doing so,  were arrested.   Others have had Fatwa’s issued against them calling for their arrest or death.  Still others have lost their jobs, and can not survive.  Pakistan’s constitution calls for freedom to worship, but the rule of law in Pakistan ignores this and institutes strict Sharia Law. “This penal code mandates life imprisonment for desecrating the Quran, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for insulting another’s religious beliefs with intent to outrage religious feelings.”  The problem is that everyone who simply tells about their faith, simply telling someone about the love of Christ is construed as hurting the feelings of Muslims.  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – The blasphemy law continues to claim victims in Pakistan. The last cases reported by Fides concern some Christians, Ahmadis, and a popular TV station – “Geo Tv”.

As Fides learns on 17 May a blasphemy case was registered in the village Mirpur Khas (Sindh province) against four Christians: Javed Masih, his wife Nazia, Rose Marry and Cavell David. The Muslim Hafiz Shah Fahad, who denounced them, says that the Christians preached in the train station in Mirpur and, therefore, severely hurt the feelings of Muslims. The police arrested all Christians for questioning.

In another notorious case, the Christian George Masih reports that father Boota Masih’s murderers, who was brutally killed on September 14, 2013 in broad daylight by some Muslims who cut his throat shouting “Allah is great”, boasting of having eliminated “a blasphemous infidel”, are still at large and unpunished. After this incident, explained George “in my family we are more dead than alive: we have lost our jobs and now no one is willing to give us work”.

On May 16, another serious incident involved the community of Ahmadis, considered a “sect” by other Muslims: a teenager killed Khalil Ahmad, a member of the Ahmadi community, denounced for blasphemy, while he was inside a police station in Punjab.

Also the popular Pakistani TV channel “Geo Tv” is accused of blasphemy: Sahibzada Hamid Raza, chairman of the Muslim Forum “Sunni Ittehad Council”, accused the channel of “hurting the religious sentiments of millions of people”. The leader issued a fatwa (Islamic decree) against the TV channel. The complaint is based on the fact that the channel broadcast images of dances with Sufi music which, according to tradition, refers directly to Muhammad and his family. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/05/2014)

Pray for the Christians and the Persecuted Church in Pakistan.  Speak out, start conversations, help the world to open it’s eyes and act on the Human Rights Abuses in Pakistan.

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