Police: Arson at Catholic Church an "Act of Religious Intolerance"

March 11, 2004

Source: News 24


On March 11, 2004 News 24 reported, "Arsonists set fire to a Roman Catholic Church in central Zanzibar, burning chairs and chests filled with clothes in 'an act of religious intolerance,' a police official said. Authorities believe unidentified assailants broke into the church early on Wednesday and started the fire by igniting cloth sacks that had been soaked in gasoline, said Hamad Issa, a police official. The police were searching for suspects but have made no arrests, he said. Although Issa did not accuse any specific group of setting the blaze, he told reporters on Wednesday that the fire was 'a deliberate act aimed at inciting religious hostilities in (Zanzibar)...it's an act of religious intolerance.' The blaze comes amid growing tension between Muslim fundamentalists and the secular authorities who govern Zanzibar, an overwhelmingly Muslim archipelago off the Indian Ocean coast of Tanzania. Roman Catholics and other Christians make less than 1% of Zanzibar's 1 million people."