Since 2017 militant Islamists have been waging a brutal campaign in northern Mozambique against both Christians and moderate Muslims who refuse to join their cause. Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama – known locally as Al Shabaab (but with no links to the Somalia-based group) – killed nearly 6,000 people and displaced 950,000 between October 2017 and the end of 2022.
Beheading, skinning and cutting off the limbs of their victims are the group’s typical methods, with one expert commenting, “What they do to the people they capture and kill I have never seen anywhere in Africa.”
The worst-affected area is the province of Cabo Delgado, nicknamed “the land of fear”. Several Christians were beheaded in June 2022, and two others beheaded in an Islamist attack on their minibus in August. At least 21 Christians were killed in violent attacks throughout Cabo Delgado in October 2022 alone.
The violence has also spread into the neighbouring province of Nampula, where a Christian was decapitated in June 2022. In September six others were killed in three days of attacks across the province, in which three church buildings and at least 120 houses were burned down.
In late 2022 it was reported Al Shabaab makes about two attacks every week, burning houses, killing people, raping women and kidnapping boys to serve as child soldiers. The militants launch attacks in one area in order to to draw in security forces and leave other areas defenceless.
In November 2022 the Islamists issued a demand that Christians and Jews pay a jizya tax to the Islamic State. This, according to classical Islam, is a tax paid by subjugated non-Muslims and would mean Christians accepting their status as dhimmi – “People of the Book” (that is, Christians and Jews) who have been subjugated by Muslim conquerors.
Lift up to the Lord the suffering Christians of Mozambique. Pray that the hand of Islamist extremists will be restrained, and that there will be peace both for our believing brothers and sisters and for moderate Muslims who do not want to join the jihadi cause.