By Umar Mulinde
Whereas, freedom of conscience and freedom of worship are fundamental Human rights enshrined in article 29(1)(c) of the Constitution of Uganda, which states: “Every person shall have the right to – (c) Freedom to practice any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organisation in a manner consistent with this Constitution.”
These freedoms have been appreciated by many Ugandans converting from one religion to another. However, these freedoms are now under threat, given plans of the government of Uganda to operationalise Article 129(1)(d), which states: The judicial power of Uganda shall be exercised by the courts of judicature which shall consist of (d) such subordinate courts as Parliament may by law establish, including qadhis courts for marriage, divorce, inheritance of property and guardianship, as may be prescribed by Parliament.
The New Vision newspaper reported on September 23, 2009, Page 5 that: “The Deputy Attorney General Freddie Ruhindi while addressing Parliament revealed that the Government will soon bring a bill to establish Islamic Khadi courts.
The bill that seeks to operationalise Article 129 of the Constitution, will give guidelines on how Khadi courts can administer justice to the Moslem community, and that in these courts Moslems will be free to apply Sharia Law in accordance to their religion”
However, Islamic teaching does not tolerate non-Muslims. If the above Islamic Sharia law is elevated to judicial law of Uganda, all fundamental human rights of not only former Muslims but also of all other non-Muslim Ugandans will be violated, because Islamic law considers all non-Muslims as infidels who must be converted by force or else fought and killed!
For example: Surat 4:89: Those who wish that ye should reject Islam, as they do, and thus be on the same footing as themselves, take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah from their unbelief. But if they turn away from Islam, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks.
Surat 9:23: O ye, who believe, hate your fathers and your brothers who leave Islam; if any of you does not do so, they offend Allah.
Surat 47:4: When you meet a non-Muslim cut off their neck…
Surat 4:74: Let Muslims fight in the cause of Allah and sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).
Surat 9: 29: Fight those who believe not in Allah…
Thousands of Ugandans, who in exercise of the right to freedom of religion have converted to other faiths, have suffered untold persecution and many of them live under a constant threat of death.
For example: Myself on 24th December 2011, I was targeted in a horrific Acid attack in the City of Kampala. Acid burnt me to near death had God not helped. I have been undergoing specialised treatment in Israel but no culprit was charged!
After my return to Uganda from treatment, the extremists continue to threaten me. There are other Muslim Background Believers who are under constant threat of life and Persecution. These incidents are many country wide Uganda similar or related and not published.
Parents of converted Muslims refuse to pay school dues for their now non-Muslim children. Children of converted Muslims are being chased from schools by Muslim owned school authorities. Housewives formerly married to Muslims who take on Jesus as their saviour are being forcefully divorced. Employees in Muslim owned enterprises who convert from Islam are being sacked. And in some cases some victims of persecution have been injured, received death threats or even killed while others are acid attack survivors.
Some are experiencing dejection from former family ties, degenerating into continuous persecution leaving many converts open to Muslims traumatising environment or keep lying low to avoid tracking:
1. Hakim: When 50 year old Hakim converted to Christianity, his Muslim relatives gathered and beat him almost to death. Neighbours intervened just in time and Hakim managed to flee his attackers totally naked. When Hakim’s mother died, he was denied the right to participate in the burial by violent threats of death.
2. Ashraf: When 35 year-old Ashraf converted to Christianity he and his wife were seriously beaten by family members who accused them of contravening Islamic teaching. His house was demolished and his farm property destroyed. Ashraf now lives in hiding and his three children do not go to school for lack of a source of income.
3. Fatuma: Fatuma was forced by her parents at the age of twelve to marry a 37 year-old-man with three wives, contrary to Article 31 of the Constitution and the Children Act. This is because of a belief in Islam that the prophet Muhammad married one of his wives, Aaisha at the age of 9 and that doing as the prophet did gives one double blessing. The man raped Fatuma and she later ran away and converted to Christianity. When Fatuma’s father died and she went to attend the burial ceremony she narrowly escaped an attempt to poison her.
Furthermore, Islamic sharia law teaching is very discriminatory and oppressive to female citizens. For example:
· Surat 2:228 Women are inferior to men,
· Surat 4:11 In inheritance, a woman’s share is half of that of a man,
· Surat 2: 282 In court witness, the witness of two women equals the witness of one man;
· Surat 3:14 – A woman is man’s possession, and marriage of adult men to juvenile girls is permitted.
Given the experience of other countries like northern Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia where application of Islamic Sharia as State law has provoked untold violence causing death of many innocent people in religious wars, Uganda should not make the same mistake of granting Islamic sharia law teaching the judicial powers of the State. Moreover, no other religious faith in Uganda can have their religious teachings have the force of law in Uganda.
The writer is lead Pastor of Gospel Life Church, Namasuba