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Mozambique: Ongoing reign of terror against Christians

Christians, mostly Roman Catholics, constitute 59% of Mozambique’s population; Muslims comprise 19%. However, the Islamic State (ISIS) has begun to step up operations in the country’s gas-rich northeast, where the Muslim population is largely concentrated.

For more ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Mozambique, see here.

“Ongoing Reign of Terror in Mozambique,” by Linda Burkle, International Christian Concern, February 21, 2023:

With so many catastrophic events occurring throughout the world, it is not surprising that many ongoing humanitarian crises continue without much attention. Currently, the global community is focused, rightfully so, on the horrific earthquakes that have devastated regions of Turkey and Syria. Simultaneously, the Russian war against Ukraine rages on with no apparent end in sight. Meanwhile, China and Iran continue to engage in aggressive actions to accomplish their geopolitical goals.

Behind the headlines, though, atrocities against Christians occur daily with little global outcry. Countries such as Nigeria and Pakistan have been identified as places with extreme persecution. However, in the past few years, other nations are increasingly experiencing attacks against Christians, tragically evident in Mozambique.  

For the first time, Mozambique appeared on the Open Doors World Watch List in 2021, ranking number 45 out of the top fifty worst nations for persecution of Christians. In 2022, Mozambique rose to number 41 on the list [1], and currently, in 2023, it jumped to 32, representing a dramatic increase in violence over the years. [2]

This marked escalation of violence against Christians in Mozambique is worthy of investigation. Much of the violence has been attributed to the ISIS-affiliated Islamist group al-Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASJ), also known as ISIS-Mozambique (IS-M), which emerged in 2017. ASJ is thought to be responsible for more than 3,100 deaths and the displacement of more than 800,000 people. [3]

In addition, Mozambique also has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Christian girls are especially vulnerable and forced to convert to Islam. Girls as young as seven have been forced to marry or live with someone as though they are married, leaving them scarred with shame and stigma. [6] It is estimated that 20 percent of girls ages 13 to 17 are impacted. Some programs operated by the UN and/or other humanitarian organizations have been developed to assist them in escaping and becoming self-sufficient. [7]….

On March 10, 2021, the US State Department designated ISIS-Mozambique (ASJ) as a terrorist organization. [9] In addition, on August 6, 2021, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken officially designated IS-M leaders Bonomade Machude Omar and Ibn Omar as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” under Executive Order 13224. This designation freezes all assets and blocks financial transactions with these individuals. [10] While the Mozambican government leaders have blamed “external terrorists” such as al-Shabbab for the violence, they have downplayed the role of IS-M. The IS-M organization has grown in strength and brutality as it has broadened its international ties. They finance their operation with illicit activities, including extortion and kidnapping. [11] Their goal is to establish a regional Islamic caliphate, and their intent is seen in widespread violence. [12]

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