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Pastor Slain for Refusing to Remove Church Building in Eastern Uganda

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 15, 2021 (Morning Star News) – Saying a church pastor would “face the wrath from Allah” for refusing to remove his church building, Muslim extremists in eastern Uganda on Oct. 26 killed him on his animals’ grazing fields, sources said.

Pastor Stephen Lugwire of Bunangwe estate in the predominantly Muslim area of Nangonde, Namutumba District, had gone to his fields with his 23-year-old daughter at about 6:30 p.m. when he was killed, she said. He was 58.

While Pastor Lugwire was untying his sheep from a tree trunk, three men dressed in Islamic attire shouted at them in a language unknown to her, said his daughter, Brenda Lugwire. They were brandishing long knives and blunt objects, and one yelled that Pastor Lugwire was a “kafir,” or infidel, who had harmed the religion of Allah, she said.

Lugwire said that as they approached, one told her father, “We have told you to remove the church which is near our mosque, but you have not heeded our message. Today you will face the wrath from Allah.”

Pastor Lugwire’s congregation has worshipped at the building for two years.

“There and then one of the assailants hit my dad with a big stick on the head, and he fell down,” Lugwire said, adding that she saw another one slashing him with a knife as she fled, terrified.

She told her family of the attack, and they reported it to police. Officers, local council leaders and family members arrived at the site early the next day and found the body with deep cuts in the neck and chest.

The police and the others learned the suspects had gone to the house of a wealthy Muslim woman identified only as Shamimu, and she was arrested, relatives said.

They said Shamimu told police, “The servants of Allah entered my house in order to remove the clothes which they were wearing, because they were soaked in blood, and said that they had killed an infidel, hence Allah will reward them as they were following the footsteps of their prophet. Furthermore, the pastor didn’t honor Allah by refusing to demolish the church which was close to the mosque, along with his activities of winning their members to Christianity.”

The assailants had fled before the police and others arrived. Police have arrested Shamimu and were continuing to search for the assailants, relatives said.

Pastor Lugwire is survived by his wife, a son and seven daughters.

A church member, Fred Mukisa Ndyeki, said that congregation members reported the killing to the area chairperson, a Muslim, and were angered when he did not take it seriously. Two days after church members held an Oct. 30 funeral for Pastor Lugwire, they destroyed the area mosque and other Muslims’ properties, further worsening local tensions, a local official said.

“Had it not been for the intervention of the police and the local leaders, the whole village could have been on fire,” the area official said on condition of anonymity.

The murder was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in 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, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kriangkrai Thitimakorn



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