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Rwanda Muslim Population Article




1. Church Role in Genocide Under Scrutiny  
[By Stephanie Nieuwoudt in Kigali ]

More than 50 churches in Rwanda have been turned into museums, but instead of viewing artefacts celebrating life, visitors come here to stare at bones.

They are the remains of human beings killed during the 1994 genocide in this beautiful country of endless green hills. There are the bones of adults and, heartbreakingly, also of babies and toddlers who were hacked to death. Visitors come not to see how life was lived but to remember how people were killed. 

Rwanda’s Muslim population is increasing daily

2. Conversions to Islam in Genocide-Stricken Rwanda Increasing [By IslamOnline(IOL)]
Ever since the state-sponsored Rwandan genocide started in 1994, in which ethnic Hutu extremists killed 800,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu, Rwandans have converted to Islam in huge numbers, a U.S. newspaper reported Monday, September 23.

Muslims now make up 14 percent of the 8.2 million people here in Africa’s most Catholic nation, twice as many as before the killings began, reported the Washington Post.


3.Converts swell Muslim ranks
Long a marginalized tiny minority, Rwanda's Muslims have grown considerably in number and stature in the 10 years since the genocide of 1994.

Like many of his compatriots, Isaac, a lanky young stonemason, converted after the bloody events of that year, when he was a soldier in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi-led rebellion that is now the dominant force in government.  

Umugwaneza Sulaiman, left, with a group of contestants at the Dubai International Holy Qur’an Award. (AN photo)

4. Determined to Spread the Message of Peace  

The life story of Umugwaneza Sulaiman, a contestant for the Dubai International Holy Qur’an Award, is truly inspirational since he has risen from rubble to create a renaissance.

Even though he is only 19, this young man from Rwanda has survived a life of hardship. As a young child he survived the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. He still has horrific memories of hiding in forests from militias that were killing people.  


5.  Growth of the Muslim community in Rwanda  
[By By Emily Wax (Washingtonpost)]Rwanda was once Africa’s most Catholic nation, until the Church was deeply implicated in the genocide of 1994. Now the Muslim population has more than doubled. M. D. ABDULLAH, a Crescent reader in Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania, sent this report.

Rwanda, once Africa’s most Catholic nation, now has twice as many Muslims as it had before the genocide in 1994. It is now common to see villagers with caps, scarves and copies of the Qur’an arriving at a mosque on a rainy Sunday afternoon for a talk addressed to new converts. There is one topic that attracts attention in all meetings: jihad.

Many Rwandans are converting to Islam after Muslims hide them during the genocide. (Emily Wax - The Washington Post)

6. Islam Attracting Many Survivors of Rwanda Genocide  
The villagers with their forest green head wraps and forest green Korans arrived at the mosque on a rainy Sunday afternoon for a lecture for new converts. There was one main topic: jihad. They found their seats and flipped to the right page. Hands flew in the air. People read passages aloud. And the word jihad -- holy struggle -- echoed again and again through the dark, leaky room.

Since the genocide, Rwandans have converted to Islam in huge numbers. Muslims now make up 14 percent of the 8.2 million people here in Africa's most Catholic nation, twice as many as before the killings began.


7. Islam Blooms in Rwanda Genocide's Wake  
[By Laurie Goering ,Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent]

Long before the call to prayer begins each Friday at noon, Rwanda's Muslim faithful jam the main mosque in Kigali's Nyamirambo neighborhood, the overflow crowd spreading prayer rugs on the mosque steps, over the red earth parking lot and out the front gate.

Almost a decade after a horrific genocide left 800,000 Rwandans dead and shook the faith of this predominantly Christian nation, Islam, once seen as a fringe religion, has surged in popularity.


8.  Islam in Rwanda  [By WIKIPEDIA]

Islam was first introduced into Rwanda by Muslim traders from the East Coast of Africa in the 18th century. Since its introduction, Muslims have been a minority in the territory, while the Roman Catholic Church, introduced to Rwandans during the Belgian Invasion, occupation and colonization by French missionaries in the late 19th century has considerably more adherents.

For the first time in its history in Rwanda, Islam is accorded the same rights and freedoms as Christianity. Estimates show that there are equal numbers of Muslims amongst the Hutus as there are amongst the Tutsis. The estimates can't be verified since in the wake of the genocide, the government has banned all discussion of ethnicity in Rwanda.


9.Islam in Rwanda benefits from positive role played by Muslims during the genocide
 [By M A Shaikh,]

In the decade since the genocide in Rwanda, which resulted in the murders of more than 800,000 people in 100 days, the Muslim population of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic West African country has more than doubled. There is no accurate census, but Muslim leaders now estimate that their number has risen to one million and constitutes 15 percent of the population. They attribute the increase to their success in rescuing most Muslims and many Christians from certain death, when thousands who had sought protection in churches were butchered or betrayed by pastors and priests. Many of the thousands who were rescued and have since accepted Islam agree with them. Yet this remarkable feat has rarely been mentioned in the avalanche of media comment that began on April 6 and still goes on. That was when a ceremony, to mark the tenth anniversary of the genocide, was held in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.  

Young Muslims get ready for Friday prayers in Rwanda

10. More Rwandans Embrace Islam After Genocide
 [By IslamOnline(IOL)]

Thanks to their benevolent behavior, the long marginalized Muslim community in Rwanda - only 1.2% less than 10 years ago – jumped on the last statistics to represent some 16% of the Rwandan population with a gradually increasing growth rate. The large number of conversion was immediately after the 1994 Genocide.

Like many of his compatriots, Isaac, a young stonemason, converted after the bloody events of 1994, when he was a soldier in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi-led rebellion that is now the dominant force in government, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.  


Muslim leaders in Kigali

11.Priest, 100 Followers Embrace Islam In Rwanda
 [By IslamOnline(IOL)]
A Rwandan priest and a hundred of his followers have embraced Islam, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) said.

The conversions were thanks to a WAMY’s medical convoy that visited remote areas in central Rwanda, whose members’ sermons deeply touched many locals, London-based Al-Quds Press quoted WAMY assistant secretary general Abdul Wahab Nour Wali as saying Saturday, March 20.

He said the convoy delivered sermons in Rwandese at the outskirts of the capital Kigali, which defined Islam and encouraged non-Muslims to accept it, adding the sermons greatly appealed to the locals.


12.Rwanda Turns to Islam After Genocide  
[By RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press Writer]

After the sliver of the new moon had been sighted, Saleh Habimana joined the growing ranks of Muslims in this central African nation and began the daylight fasting that marks the holy month of Ramadan. Later, Rwanda's leading Muslim cleric joined men in embroidered caps and boys in school uniforms to pray at the overflowing Al-Fatah mosque - more testimony to the swelling numbers of Muslims in this predominantly Christian country.

Though Muslims remain a small percentage of Rwanda's 8 million people, Islam is on the rise eight years after the 1994 genocide brought 100 days of murder, terror and mayhem. More than 500,000 minority Tutsis and political moderates from the Hutu majority were killed by Hutu militiamen, soldiers and ordinary citizens in a slaughter orchestrated by the extremist Hutu government then in power.


13. Rwanda ashamed
[By Naeem Jennah By Alana Tiemessen]
I walked out of the building numbed. Looking back now I am surprised that my legs were even able to carry me. My eyes were glazed; my arms limp at my sides. I wasn’t the only one. Brave young men tried desperately to hold back their tears, and failed miserably. Experienced adult men broke down and wept; one broke out in a sweat minutes after we had entered and twitched nervously as it dripped off his face.


14. Rwanda: Genocide to Jihad
[By Alana Tiemessen, University of British columbia]
Many explanations ranging from ethnicity to political economy have been offered to find answers to the Rwandan genocide that killed approximately 800,000 in the spring of 1994. While labelling the genocide as an “ethnic conflict” is a gross simplification of the factors that mobilized and targeted Rwandan for acts of violence, it is fair to discern that the majority of those killed were Tutsis and some were moderate Hutus.


15.  Rwanda: Global research
Muslims Persecution of Christians: The Unknown Side of Radical Islam in Somalia Somalia is considered to be a country that does not recognize religious freedom,  because there is no constitution and no legal provision for its protection. About 99.5  percent of the Somalia population is Muslim. The very small Christian minority comprises of ethnic Bantus, as well as humanitarian workers and expatriates. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a Christian human rights organization,
Somalia is the worst persecutor of Christians among all the nations in Africa. Thus, it can mean death to be openly Christian in Somalia. Christians are now the only group having no place to flee in Somalia, and cannot register as refugees to resettle in other countries. Since Muslims control refugee camps, most Christians have fled to the remote areas of Ethiopia and Kenya along the border.  

Many Rwandan Catholics believe the Church let them down

16.  Rwanda's religious reflections
 [By Robert  Walker, BBC NEWS]
Twenty-year-old Zafran Mukantwari was the only person in her family who survived the genocide.

I meet her sitting outside Kigali's Al-Aqsa mosque. She is tightly veiled and speaks softly as she tells me what happened 10 years ago.

Her family were Catholic, she says. Those who killed them worshipped at the same church.At the age of 10, Zafran found herself alone and at first she continued going to church.

She thought she could find support there. But then she began to question her faith. "When I realised that the people I was praying with killed my parents, I preferred to become a Muslim because Muslims did not kill."


RISE OF ISLAM: A Rwandan Muslim sits outside Al Fatah Mosque in the capital, Kigali. The number of mosques has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, and many smaller Christian denominations have sprung up in storefront churches.

17.Rwanda's resurrection of faith
 [By Mary Wiltenburg , Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor]
Ten Easters ago, she was celebrating the Resurrection at St. Michel, one of the Rwandan capital's biggest Catholic churches. The following week, the killing began. Ms. Rumanyika, her husband, and their young children first hid with friends, then borrowed a car and sped for the Congo border - evading death, she says, only by a series of miracles. As they fled and prayed, hundreds of thousands of members of Rwanda's Hutu ethnic majority were hacking to death nearly a million of their minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu countrymen on the orders of an extremist Hutu government.  


18.Since '94 Horror, Rwandans Turn Toward Islam [] 
''People died in my old church, and the pastor helped the killers,'' said Yakobo Djuma Nzeyimana, 21, who became a Muslim in 1996. ''I couldn't go back and pray there. I had to find something else.''

Wearing a black prayer cap, Mr. Nzeyimana was one of nearly 2,000 worshipers at the Masdjid Al Fat'h last Friday. The crowd was so large that some Muslims set their prayer mats on the dirt outside the mosque and prayed in the midday heat.

The Muslim community now boasts so many converts that it has had to embark on a crash campaign to build new mosques to accommodate all of the faithful. About 500 mosques are scattered throughout Rwanda, about double the number that existed a decade ago.

Although no accurate census has been done, Muslims leaders in Rwanda estimate that they have about a million followers, or about 15 percent of the population. That, too, would represent a doubling of their numbers in the past 10 years