Rwanda shuts down over 700 churches in ongoing crackdown

The churches were asked to cease operations until they meet the expected standards

The crackdown, which began a week ago, targeted places of worship that were found to lack basic infrastructure, fell short of hygiene, safety standards and had issues related to their legal status, according to local leaders.

A state official, Justus Kangwagye, said the churches were asked to halt operations until they meet the expected standards.

“Worshiping should be done in an organised way and meet minimum standards. Exercising your freedom of worship should not encroach on other people’s rights. They have been asked to halt operations until they meet the requirements,” he said.

The report says some churches were operating in tents and did not have adequate parking for the worshippers, who ended up parking on the side of the road and causing traffic jams.

The authorities also issued a warning to churches that make noise and disturb peace in residential neighbourhoods.

City residents expressed mixed reactions with some saying the move is warranted to protect the general public while others said churches ought to have been given more time to comply with the directives or seek appropriate locations.

Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, the president of the Churches' Forum in Nyarugenge District,  pleaded on behalf of the churches that they should be allowed to operate until the raised issues are fixed.

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