Muslim Mob Storms Church; Forces Closure Senegal

A local Muslim politician at the head of a mob of young men stormed a church in Dakar on May 23. Insulting and assaulting Christian worshippers, the youths, armed with knives and stones, drove them out and occupied the building. The church, which has only recently opened, first encountered opposition from the local politician when it met with officials to receive formal approval before beginning to hold services.

Having failed to prevent Christians from establishing the church local conservative Muslims took the law into their own hands and decided to assault the church claiming that Christians were making too much noise during services and disturbing the local community. Despite the involvement of the police and local authorities, and a reconciliation meeting in which church leaders apologized for any noise they may have inadvertently made, the church building has still not been returned to the congregation.

The incident is the latest in a series of several attacks upon Christians and their churches that have taken place in different parts of the country in recent years. Church leaders fear the incidents may be part of a concerted campaign to put pressure on Christians by Islamic extremist factions who want to make Senegal an exclusively Islamic country. Tensions were heightened for Christians and other non-Muslims in the country two years ago when the President announced that "Senegal will be 100 percent Muslim in three years."