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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Catholic priest shot dead and church set on fire during Zanzibar music festival that promotes religious tolerance

Catholic priests say they are living in fear after a clergyman was murdered on the final day of a music festival promoting religious tolerance.

Father Evaristus Mushi was shot dead by two men on motorcycles on the last day of the Sounds of Wisdom festival in Zanzibar and his death has prompted concern that religious tensions on the holiday island are increasing. Since the murder on February 17 a church has also been set on fire. Five churches were torched on the island in 2012.

Protestant pastor Mathew Kachira was killed on February 10, Catholic News reported, and Father Ambrose Mkenda was shot and wounded on Christmas Day.

In November a Muslim cleric was injured in an acid attack. The island is classed as a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania and some believe that terrorists demanding independence from Tanzania are behind the murder.

Bishop Shao said clergy have been sent threatening texts following Father Mushi's murder.  It has been reported that priests and bishops in Tanzania received texts praising the Somalia-trained men who murdered the priest and warned of further attacks at Easter.  The bishop said warnings had also been received that the killings would continue until Muslim leaders jailed after disturbances on the island last year were freed.

The murder happened on the final day of the tenth Sounds of Wisdom festival or Sauti za Busara. Yusuf Mahmoud, the festival director, told the crowd that a major purpose of the event was 'breaking down barriers between Muslims and Christians, black and white', Fundamentalist Muslims consider music to be haram – a music festival is unlikely to appeal.

Three days later the Pool of Siloam Church was set on fire

The majority of islanders are Muslim, with Christians making up as little as five per cent of the population.

Retired Anglican bishop John Ramadhani told The Guardian that religion was being used for political goals. He said: 'There has been harmony and toleration in the past but I think there is perhaps a belief that Christians should not be here.'

Posted on 02/26/2013 4:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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