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Are Christian-Muslim Relations in East Africa Going the (Violent) Way of Nigeria?

(Updated) Explosion by Islamists at Kenyan church follows similar church attack in formerly safe Tanzania.

Update (June 13): Morning Star News reports that Islamist terrorist group Al Shabaab is behind a church explosion that inured 15 people in Kenya.

Kenya is the latest East African country thrust into Muslim-Christian turmoil and attacks, especially since jihadists have begun recruiting ex-Christians, as CT reported in January.

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Update (May 10): The result of a two-day interfaith dialogue in the Tanzania capital Dar-es Salaam is a ban on all types of religious hate speech, Sabahi Online reports. Religious leaders reached the decision as a way of easing religious tensions in the country, which World Watch Monitor says is "no longer being considered 'safe,'" even though it once was a model of African peace.

Meanwhile, Sabahi also reports that courts have dismissed charges against one suspect in the bombing at an Arusha church last Sunday.

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A bomb exploded during a high-profile church service in Tanzania last Sunday, raising fears that the violence perpetrated by militant Islamists in Nigeria could be spreading to other parts of Africa.

The attack during the inaugural mass at newly built Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Arusha killed two people and injured 30 others.

Morning Star News reports that "terrorist groups have not been active in Tanzania since the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in 1998, but President Jakaya Kikwete termed Sunday's explosion a terrorist attack."

Eight people already have been arrested in connection with the blast. Officials say the motive behind the attack remains unknown, but tensions between Muslims and Christians have been high lately.

Earlier this year, disagreement between Muslims and Christians in Tanzania over the slaughtering of animals for sale led to the beheading of a pastor. In addition, on Tanzania's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, a Catholic priest was shot and killed by Islamists, the second attack on the island's Christians since Christmas.

In neighboring Kenya, masked gunmen attacked two churches last July, prompting some analysts to suggest that Islamist extremists are seeking to copy Boko Haram's terrorism campaign against Nigerian churches.

CT also recently reported that Tanzania ranked 24th on the 2013 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution. African nations have surged up the ranks to take many top spots on the list in recent years.

Related Topics:Africa
Posted:May 7, 2013 at 2:17PM
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