Christian evangelist found dead after debating Muslims in Uganda

A church in Odek village, north of Kampala. Christians make up 85 per cent of Uganda's population.Reuters

A pastor and evangelist was found dead after taking part in a debate between Christians and Muslims in eastern Uganda last month.

Samson Nfunyeku had spoken at a number of theological debates at the Tirinyi Trading Center this year, the last of which was on September 22. In the early hours of the next morning, his body was found close to his home in Kalampete village, Kibuku District, Morning Star News reported.

The body showed signs of head injuries and possible strangling.

According to local reports, Nfunyeku had been threatened at a previous debate by Muslim scholars, who warned him not to hold any more.

Christians make up the majority of Uganda's population, but there have been reports of persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists in the eastern part of country.

The 17-year-old daughter of a church pastor in Budaka District was allegedly gang-raped by five men in March after her father refused to close his church. A former sheikh who converted to Christianity and became an evangelist claimed in July that he had escaped two planned attacks by militants.

According to Christian persecution charity Open Doors, Islamic extremism is "very present [in Uganda] and remains a concern".

A field report from the charity last year said that the church was growing in Uganda, especially in rural areas, but "Muslim communities have entrenched themselves, feel themselves emboldened by the impunity they enjoy, and radical Islamic expressions are advancing.

"Within this context it is understandable that Christians feel concerned about the future," the charity said. "Moreover, Muslim groupings have pushed successfully for the implementation of Kadhis courts [sharia family courts] and Islamic law to operate them."

Nfunyeku is survived by seven grandchildren and 16 grandchildren. At his funeral, he was praised for his courage and passion "to win Muslims for Christ".