Friday, May 16, 2008

Church and state

Reading this report on violence against Anglican parishioners in Zimbabwe, I was struck by the imagery--the juxtaposition of riot police and worshippers, the baton and the bible, black boots and black skirts, the banging of the pews and song:
The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.
A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, “We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!” Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers’ Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.

Reports of Mugabe ordered violence have been widespread since his electoral loss on March 29, and you can see some evidence of that on Flickr here (note: some of the photos were taken before the election, and others after).