A former sheikh (Islamic teacher) in eastern Uganda has been in hiding since he lost his family for putting his faith in Christ two years ago, but last month he was tricked into a life-threatening encounter.
Mulangira Ibrahim, 27, was on his way to his pastor's house after a church service on Lake Victoria's Jaguzi Island, in Mayuge District, the evening of Nov. 16 when he received a telephone call from an unknown person saying the pastor wanted to see him back at the church compound.
Without a second thought, Ibrahim turned around.
"On my way to the church premise, four people stopped me and then got hold of me and started threatening me that if I do not recant Christianity and return to Islam, then they were going to kill me," Ibrahim told Morning Star News. "I did not answer them, and one began slapping me, while another hit me with a blunt object. As I started screaming for help, I received more blows and from there I lost my consciousness."
When he came to, he found himself surrounded by police, the pastor and church members, he said. Pastor Charles Musana of the Evangel World Vision Church rushed Ibrahim to a nearby dispensary for medication.
"Ibrahim suffered backache, head and leg injuries, and we found him in a pool of blood," Pastor Musana said. "We rushed him to a Jaguzi dispensary, and the following day we recorded the incident with the police under police Reference No. SD 14/19/11/2017 on life-threatening violence."
Ibrahim is now recovering at the pastor's house.
"The attack was so severe that it will take more than a month for Ibrahim to recover from the multiple injuries," the pastor said.
Since his conversion two years ago, area Muslims took his wife, Nalunkuma Joweria, and their three children ages 8, 6 and 4, from him upon learning that he had left Islam, he said.
From Butegwa village, Bukooli County in Bugiri District, Ibrahim had been sent to propagate Islam on the island of Jaguzi as the sheikh of Madrasat Noor Islamia Mosque.
On the island, he had a vision in which he saw himself holding a Bible, followed by another in which he was attending Islamic studies in Iran, he said. Most Iranians practice Shia Islam, anathema to Sunni Muslims in Uganda, but in any case Ibrahim said both visions troubled him.
He decided to visit the pastor of the Evangel World Vision Church and, to allay any religious tensions, he asked a small Muslim child from the Islamic school where he taught to accompany him and inform the pastor that he was outside the church offices, Ibrahim said.
Upon arrival to the door of the church building, he said, he was temporarily blinded in such a way that he fell to the ground, and the child became frightened and ran to the nearby mosque shouting, "The sheikh has been killed by the Christians."
The pastor said he came out of his office and found Ibrahim on the ground praising Jesus. Muslims who dashed to the site also found Ibrahim praising Issa, Jesus Christ, as Lord. They beat him before fleeing when a large number of Christians arrived. It was Oct. 4, 2015.
The area Muslims went to Ibrahim's house and took away his wife and children. Ibrahim said they left behind a written note that he should not return to the house, which they had rented for him. They also terminated his services as sheikh of Madrasat Noor Islamia Mosque.
Back at his home in Butegwa village, his Muslim family took his house away and sold its plot of land, rendering him homeless, he said.
"Since then, life became very difficult for me," Ibrahim told Morning Star News. "I had no place to lay my head. But thank God the church gave me a place to reside within the church compound."
Immediately after becoming a Christian, Ibrahim began receiving threatening messages.
"For the last two years I have confined myself within the church compound and pastor's house, which is 1.5 kilometers away, as Muslims are continually posting messages that they needed my head because I ditched Islam," he told Morning Star News by phone.
Police are investigating the Nov. 16 assault but have not arrested anyone, sources said.
The incident is one of many recent attacks by non-state figures on Christians in eastern Uganda. 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 many concentrated in the eastern part of the country.