Friday, 19 June 2009
?Muslim Fanatics? May Ignite Religious War in Sierra Leone...Says Christian Believer

From The Standard Times a report followed by editorial comment on the recent destruction of a church in Sierra Leone by a Muslim group.
The display of the powers of the Supreme Being through this widow (through whom God had healed a man three years earlier, which impressed the people Ew) convinced the inhabitants of the (Mambolo Chiefdom in the Kambia District) Chiefdom to resolute their minds and accept the fact that indeed there is a true God, which the Christians believed in and are dedicated to in the pursuit of their objective of life after death through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who sacrificed his life and died on the cross for the sins of those that believed and repent.
They decided they wanted a church and so:-
Pastor Samuel Sankoh was contacted and became very instrumental for the foundation stone of the Lord’s Mission Church to be laid. A large portion of land was donated to the church by the people, with certain amount of money paid by the church that benefited the community.
The Lord’s Mission Church took several years to secure funding from an American Christian denomination to erect the church, according to Pastor Mansaray. After so many efforts made, funding was obtained and construction of the church commenced with co, operation and support from their senior pastor in Freetown, Bishop Archibald Cole. A total of about $30,000 was spent on the building and $20,000 on water well with four tanks, solar panel and electric pump to provide safe drinking water to the community and not only members of the church.
Seeing the rapid development in the chiefdom, a group of individuals from the outskirt of the chiefdom decided to inflict pain on the people and took them to where they where before, under the guise of fighting a just Muslim course. They described themselves as believers of the Muslim Faith, who said that they would not allow a church to be built on the soil where a mosque had stood before. Initially, it was rumoured that a group of Muslim fanatics were preparing to set the church building on fire, claiming that it was an instruction received from their leaders in Freetown.
The rumour, according to Pastor Mansaray was reported to the Officer Commanding the Mambolo Police Post, who assured them that adequate security would be provided to the building. Few days afterwards, the rumour became a reality when some youth numbered about two hundred stormed the Rokbop Village and set the church building on fire, damaged the water well, stole the solar panel, tanks and electric pump.
The leader of the group, according to police   sources of the Mambolo Police Post was Sheik Lamin Sesay who reiterated to police that his group was working on instruction from their leaders in Freetown. He was arrested on the instruction of the Local Unit Commander, Mr. Foday Conteh together with some other members of his group and detained. According to government sources, the incident was also reported to the Minister of Works, Mr. Philip Koroma who also hailed from the Kambia District, which the denounced and condemned completely, saying that the action is not only uncivilized but has the potential of igniting religious war between the Muslims and the Christians in the country.
Other Muslim leaders and believers of the Islamic Faith have equally condemned the action of the group who tagged themselves as Muslim. According to Sheik Kallay, the action of the group has no semblance of the Muslim Faith, nor are they followers of the Muslim doctrine. “True Muslim doesn’t burn down churches, or destroy facility such as water”. He said, and advised true Muslims in the country to dissociate themselves from the work of the devil.”
Report states that those who were arrested by police have already been released, for reasons which have not been known to the church but police sources say some of them used politics to secure their release. The fear being expressed by some Sierra Leoneans who have been following the matter is that if no action is taken by the APC government, there is possibility that this same group will repeat their action, since they now know that they would not suffer any consequence of their action.

Editor’s Comment
The story above was published on the 16th June 2009 in the Standard Times edition. The story was about a criminal activity so to say knowingly and jointly carried out by a group of individuals purporting to be Muslims in the Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District on a Church,  not too long ago which was constructed by the Lord’s Mission to bring salvation to residents of that area. The publication did not go down well with two sheiks, namely Alie Kallay and Sheik Fomba. Unfortunately, overcome by sentiments and emotions they ignored the substance of the publication and demonstrated their bias against the author of the publication for calling the group of individuals who set fire on a church building “MUSLIM REBELS”
For the purpose of fair comment and justification, this writer who was attacked by Sheik Alie Kallay and his cohort Sheik Fomba would limit comments regarding the issue on the substance of the publication and why a description of such nature was ascribed to this bunch of lawless men and women who took the laws into their hand to perpetuate criminality, and now walking the streets of Kambia and Mambolo free, while the mission and those who were receiving salvation from church left in frustration.
The Editor is bravely continuing to promote the desirability of peaceful religious co-existence and emphasising the peaceful potential of Islam.
This is what the preacher men and teachers of the Muslim religion, who are parading the streets of Freetown under the nomenclature of Sheiks are supposed to do in the interest of peace and stability of the country and protecting the image of the Muslim religion, but woefully, both Sheiks Alie Kallay and Fomba failed to do that when they took up the issue in a radio programme aired on Tuesday Night at the Voice of Islam FM102.0. It was like justifying the criminal action of this group with the perception that there is nowhere in the world that a church building was built on a piece of land where a mosque had stood before.
This is not only absurd, but a clear manifestation of religious hypocrisy exhibited by these two men using a religious radio station to criticize those who are completely against the inhuman, unreligious and criminal action of these people.  Was there a church in Rokbop Village called Lord’s Mission Church established on behalf of the residents of the Mambolo Chiefdom? Was this Church burnt down by a group of individuals acting under the guise of Muslims? Did the Police in Mambolo Chiefdom, Kambia District arrest a number of people including a Sheik by the name of Lamin Sesay who led the group to commit the offence for which he was not punished, released and allowed to go free?
These and more are the issues and not whether Philip Neville is a Church goer or not. These are facts that cannot be ignored by any sane minds apart from Sheiks Alie Kallay and Fomba, who are toying with the truth. There was a Church in the village of Rokbop, built by the Lord’s Mission and this church was burnt by a group of Muslim rebels and the water facility valued at $20,000 provided by this mission was equally destroyed and equipment stolen by the group. This group that carried out the act came from the outskirt of the village and not the beneficiaries of the church and the facility provided.
Sheik Alie Kallay and his team are blind to this undisputed fact and reality of the ugly situation that took place in the district and the only way they thought it fit to console themselves was to attack the author of the publication for exposing the bunch of rebels that caused the mayhem on the lives of the residents of the village. Perhaps, what Sheik Kallay and other insane minds failed to comprehend is the fact  that the facilities enjoyed by the residents of the village and those who used to benefit from them have been deprived, not only of salvation; but the gift of nature, which is water. Is that the behaviour of a true Muslim?
The issue of peace and stability which were merely happed upon by Sheik Kallay and Fomba during the programme was not done sincerely, if it were they should have first condemn the action of the group who rebelled against the Christians and appealed to the Christian victims to be patient and forgive these people, the same way Jesus Christ appealed on behalf of the Pharisees to God when he was on the cross, saying “Lord forgive them for they know what they are doing”. Here we see how the affected Christians comported themselves for peace to prevail, if not they too could have reacted the same way, which would not augur well for national and religious developments in the country.
Attacking Philip Neville for reporting the action of a few disgruntled men who have demonstrated no respect for the religious beliefs of another group is obscure and unbelievable, especially from a set of religious teachers whom much is expected from. Let Sheik Alie and group accept the bitter truth that the action of this group is criminal and indecent and be ready to register their apology to the church. Whether a mosque was there before the establishment of the church or that the village of Rokbop is not a defence, because Sierra Leone is not a predominately Muslim state, but a country where religious tolerance is the norm and practice.  
The committee setup by government to investigate the ugly incident MUST endeavour to come out with its findings and recommendations so that groups acting in this manner under the guise of any religion will stop. President Ernest Bai Koroma, himself being a devout Christian must called the leaders of the two dominant religious groups together and educate them about the role of religion in the development of the state and good governance. Sierra Leone is not a breeding ground for religious intolerance, religious terrorists and religious rebels as this is not the first time that a so-called Muslim group has levied an attack on a church. Sometime back, similar group acting on religious sentiment attacked a church at Portee and inflicted pain on the people. It should be noted that the days of barbarism are far gone, and we are now living in a global village where interdependence, inter-marriages and religious tolerance are the ingredients of peaceful co-existence of mankind and not religious supremacy or domination.  
African Christians are not shy of standing up for their faith.
Posted on 06/19/2009 3:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
19 Jun 2009

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Esme.  I have just read - and prayed - through it.  

I enjoy the plain speaking and practical thinking of those African Christians. It is notable that rather than just building a church the Christians also built a well with (so far as I can deduced) what one might call a mini-waterworks for the whole community...water of life.

It is also notable that the Muslims made their usual nonsensical claim to 'prior ownership' (of the church site, in this case)...and smashed and burned and pillaged, destroying a valuable new community resource. 

For those who may not know, I will throw in some background information on Sierra Leone, from my Christian sourcebook Operation World  [OW] and from the CIA factbook.

OW said (2001) that Sierra Leone was 70 % Muslim (rate of increase 4.5 %), 18 % traditional religion, and 12 % Christian (rate of increase 2.9 %); official language English with Krio (Creole) as lingua franca.  In 2001 the country was viewed as having ceased to function as a viable anyone surprised, given that it was 70 % Muslim?

OW also notes that "during the 20th century Islam grew from 10 % to maybe 80 % of the population" (it would be interesting to find out figures for each decade and correlate them with the level of 'instability').

CIA for 2009 is cautiously hopeful (which, in a way, chimes with the fact that the posted article shows that village Christians were organised and confident enough to gather resources and ask for help from the Church Universal, to build a church and water well):

'democracy is slowly being reestablished after the civil war from 1991 to 2002 that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one third of the population).

'The military, which took over full responsibility for security following the departure of UN peacekeepers at the end of 2005, is increasingly developing as a guarantor of the country's stability [hmmm -I'd like to know whether Muslims control the military..if so I would not be very hopeful of longterm peace...dda]

"The armed forces remained on the sideline during the 2007 presidential election...The new government's priorities include furthering development [good luck with that, when Muslim rent-a-mobs destroy village waterworks built by Christians - dda] and stamping out endemic corruption [good luck with that, in a country 70-80 % Islamised...dda]."

The CIA factbook religion breakdown differs somewhat from the OW figures - stating Muslim 60 %, Christian 10 %, animist/ traditional beliefs 30 % (this variation between OW and the CIA guesstimates may be accounted for by syncretism between traditional beliefs and both Christianity and Islam).


19 Jun 2009
Send an emailJohn M. J.

Good post, Esme. Thanks for the highly informative background, dda - most useful.

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