Rwanda’s government closed thousands of churches and dozens of mosques last month as it sought to assert more control over a vibrant religious community whose sometimes makeshift operations, the country’s administration says, are often a threat to the lives of followers.
President Paul Kagame, alarmed at the number of churches in the capital alone (as many as 700), did not hide his disdain at the revelation: “700 churches in Kigali?” he posed. “Are these boreholes that give people water? I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories?”
His move, although criticised by most as a crackdown on the basic rights of association and worship, has been welcomed in some quarters, and now Kenyans want President Kenyatta to follow suit and shut down the thousands of churches – boldly referred to as sects by online users – because of their dishonest and extortionist ways.
There have been several attempts to regulate the way religious organisations are run in Kenya – the latest being last year – but such attempts have been met with fierce criticism and threats in some instances. These regulations are borne out of a proliferation of illegal and fraudulent activities in these organisations, which are been exposed in media.