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Uganda: Two Christians Jailed under Blasphemy Law

The disturbing treatment of Joseph Omadi and Isaac Napakol illustrates yet again how conversion to Christianity is so often the occasion for persecution of Christians — both of the converts and of those who brought the converts the word of the Gospel. 

Among the Christians of Uganda are around 35,000 Orthodox Christians. 

For previous coverage of Christian persecution in Uganda, see here.

“Two Christians Jailed under Blasphemy Law in Uganda,” Morning Star News, December 22, 2023:

NAIROBIKenya (Morning Star News) – Two evangelists in eastern Uganda will spend Christmas in jail, charged under a blasphemy law after Muslims upset at their street preaching beat them and summoned police, sources said.

On the final day of a three-day evangelistic campaign in the city of Soroti, police on Nov. 21 arrested Joseph Omadi and Isaac Napakol after a Muslim mob beat them, said a participating pastor who managed to escape.

The Christians had preached on the street for 30 minutes when they were surprised to see “a multitude of Muslims,” said Pastor Robert Omodingi.

“We thought that maybe they had come to listen to the word of God, but to our surprise, they just grabbed my colleagues and started beating them, and shortly police came and arrested them,” Pastor Omodingi said.

On Nov. 23 police charged them under Section 122 of Uganda’s penal code for allegedly “wounding the religious feelings” of the Muslim community, and a grade one magistrate court sent them to jail to await trial, he said.

The Muslims were upset that the evangelists were using the Koran in their message. Pastor Omodingi said district leader Sheikh Ramadhan Ibwakit had sent a local imam to warn them to stop using the Koran on the second day of the evangelistic campaign.

He said the district leader later told authorities, “We as Muslims have worked hand in hand to get these kafir [infidels] after warning them to stop using our Koran and other Islamic literature, but they refused. They were quoting the Koran while speaking to our Muslims on the streets of Soroti – this is unacceptable in our faith.”

At a hearing on Wednesday (Dec. 20), Omadi was limping, but it was unclear whether the injury to his left leg was a result of the mob beating on Nov. 21 or whether it was inflicted in custody, sources said.

“We are concerned about the deteriorating physical appearance of our two evangelists, and we are calling for the court to handle the case with justice,” said another pastor on condition of anonymity.

The court has scheduled the next hearing for Jan. 10, he said.

“The two evangelists will continue languishing in the cell for the coming three weeks as the Christian lawyers continue presenting their case,” he said. “When the two evangelists appeared in court yesterday [Dec. 20], they had lost a lot of weight and were in a very sad mood; possibly they may have been subjected to some kind of torture.”

Their condition has prompted the chairman of the churches in Soroti to mobilize members to pray and fast, he said. He criticized the district official for leading police to arrest the evangelists for using the Koran in their preaching.

“We have been seeing Muslims in their open-air crusades using our Bibles,” he said. “Even the Muslims do use the Bible, but the church has never accused them in any court of law in Uganda.”…

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