Zanzibar legal twisting and intimidation leave Christians churchless
Pastor Paulo Kamole Masegi of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God cannot live on the property he purchased, because neighbors were upset that he used the place to also hold worship services on the island of Zanzibar in east Africa.
Islamists also demolished the foundation of the church building that Masegi was constructing on his land, and a mosque is being erected in its place with the collusion of local officials, Compass Direct News said.
Masegi bought the land in April 2007 with plans to build a church in Mwanyanya-Mtoni. By November he built a house for himself which doubled temporarily as a place for worship, CDN said.
Masegi planned to build a church within the compound eventually, and the house would be his family home. When the worship services began on Nov. 11, 2007, Muslim residents objected, CDN said.
Local Muslims began construction of a mosque only three feet away from the church in August 2009. Then on November that year, Masegi began building his permanent church on his land. This led Muslims to storm into the compound and destroy the structure, CDN said.
When the incident was reported to the police no action was taken. Neither were church leaders given a copy of the crime report which they needed for court purposes. Inquiries by Christian leaders about the crime report were stonewalled, CDN said.
The absence of a court report further obstructed the construction of the permanent church building from proceeding. However the mosque was built with no trouble and was finished in December 2009.
Western District Commissioner Ali Mohammed Ali sent a letter to Masegi on Feb. 16, 2010 saying the Christians had no right to worship in a “residential home.” Neither could he convert his house to a worship center because the police refused to prosecute those who destroyed the church building foundation, CDN said.
Both police and Muslims in the area regularly monitor the home and all movements of Masegi. Zanzibar is predominantly Sunni Muslim. There are restrictions on purchasing land if it will be used for a church building. Neither do they allow open preaching. Christian programs are aired on television in limited time slots. All schools can only teach the Islam religion, and the cost of evangelizing is brutal, CDN said.