Authorities in Rwanda have shut down about 714 churches and one mosque in different parts of Kigali over the last one week for allegedly failing to meet minimum standards and comply with building regulations.
It was gathered that the churches were found to lack basic infrastructure, hygiene, safety standards and had issues related to their legal status.
Authorities suspend activities for a total of 714 churches in different parts of Kigali. The places of worship were found to lack basic infrastructure, fell short of hygiene, safety standards and had issues related to their legal status.
— The New Times (Rwanda) (@NewTimesRwanda) February 28, 2018
The crackdown is being carried out by respective urban district authorities in partnership with the Rwanda Governance Board.
“Some churches conduct their worship services in shoddy and unclean structures, to the detriment of people’s health and safety,” said Anastase Shyaka, head of the Rwanda Governance Board, which monitors public and private organisations.
“Cases of noise pollution have also been reported while some operate without the required operation permits,” he added.
He said the shutdown – which mainly affects Pentecostal churches – would go into effect on Thursday.
The churches have been asked to “halt operations until they meet the requirements.”
Most of the churches that will be closed are small, with congregations of hundreds of worshippers.
Church representatives criticised the move, saying authorities were being too strict.
“Those that failed to implement a few requirements should be reopened and allowed to work while fixing the problems raised,” said Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, president of the Churches’ Forum in Nyarugenge district, which includes Kigali.