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Japan: Muslim migrant damages a Shinto shrine and threatens Japanese local not to pray there because ‘Allah is the only god’, arrested

The accused also reportedly told a woman devotee who was visiting the shrine at the time, "There is only Allah (the god) of Islam, so there is no God here, so don’t pray here."

A video has been going viral on social media wherein a man in yellow attire can be seen vandalising a worship place. The video is reportedly from the Tarumi Ward in Japan’s Kobe City where the accused identified as Mamadou Balde had vandalised the Mizuoka Hachiman shrine in the area.

Balde is a Muslim native of the Republic of Gambia in West Africa, who migrated to Japan and now lives in Tarumi Ward, where the incident took place.

The accused, who was later arrested by the Japanese police, reportedly broke an offering box kept in the shrine. He also, reportedly, threatened a local worshipper against offering prayers at the shrine claiming Allah to be the only God. The incident occurred on May 3, 2023.

The CCTV footage revealed that the Muslim man, dressed in yellow attire appeared in the precincts of the Japanese Shinto shrine at around 9:30 am on May 3. He kicked the offering box kept in the shrine.

Shinto Shrines are places of worship as well as the dwellings of the Shinto gods- kami. Sacred articles of devotion representing the kami are kept in the shrine’s innermost chamber, where they cannot usually be seen by anyone. In some cases, a mountain, waterfall, or rock behind the shrine building can be the object of veneration.

Another security camera also showed the bamboo pipes in the chozuya, where the worshippers wash their hands before offering prayers in the shrine, and a wooden box kept on top of another offertory box being slammed to the ground.

The accused also reportedly told a woman devotee who was visiting the shrine at the time, “There is only Allah (the god) of Islam, so there is no God here, so don’t pray here.”

Reacting to the incident, Mizuoka Hachiman Shrine, chief priest, said: “It’s really disappointing, I can only say that.” 

Rise of Islam in Japan

It is pertinent to note here that as per available data, Islam has become the fastest-growing religion in Japan in terms of percentage increase, with its followers growing by 110%, from 110,000 in 2010 to 230,000 at the end of 2019, out of the total population of Japan of around 126 million. According to some sources, there were 30,000 Muslims in Japan in 1982.

One of the primary reasons for this demographic change is the sharp rise in marriages between Muslims and Japanese citizens and Japanese converts over two decades. This has caused a seven-fold increase in the number of mosques that have mushroomed in the country. A study by Hirofumi Tanada, professor emeritus of sociology at Waseda University in Tokyo showed there were 113 mosques across Japan in March 2021, up from only 15 in 1999.

Notably, the first contact between Japan and the Muslim world can be traced back to the 16th century when Japanese traders began establishing trade routes with the Middle East and Southeast Asia. These interactions introduced some Japanese to Islamic customs and practices.

In the late 19th century, Japan experienced a wave of migration due to industrialization and economic development. This resulted in the arrival of a small number of Muslim migrants, primarily from India, Turkey, and other parts of the Middle East. These migrants played a significant role in laying the foundation for Islam in Japan.

Islamic organizations began to emerge in Japan during the mid-20th century. Some Japanese individuals began converting to Islam, either through personal study or interactions with the Muslim community in Japan.

In the 1960s hundreds of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims migrated to work in Japan and became settled. Additionally, Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh increased in the late 1980s as visa waiver programs were introduced by the Japanese government. According to data provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the population of migrant Muslim workers in Japan doubled to reach more than 2 million at the end of 2011.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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