A NEW CHIEF MUFTI

Muslim agitation against what many believers consider to be government bias against Muslims has been relatively subdued in recent months as politically active believers concentrated on the election of a new Chief Mufti (Chief Sheikh) of Tanzania on October 13. Eventually, at a National Conference of the Muslim Council (BAKWATA), Sheikh Issa Shabaan Simba, who was Deputy Mufti, was elected Chief Mufti. Of the 150 ballots cast he got 71, defeating 11 rivals. The atmosphere was tense and the conference hall surrounded by security officials and riot police on the day of the election which was marred by accusations and counter accusations. There was an anonymous document alleging that Simba was not qualified because he had mismanaged BAKWATA funds. The election of the Mufti had been unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court by the Islamic Club, the Mosque Council (BAMITA) and the Muslim Associations who all said that he had no constitutional right to represent Muslims.

The Muslim activist Sheikh Ponda, Chairman of the ‘Committee of Imams’ and seven of his colleagues who were facing murder charges were released on 19th August according to Nipashe. The Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges. The Sheikh had been arrested a day after riots that took place in Dar es Salaam on February 13, 2002, leaving a civilian and a constable dead. Sheikh Ponda later stated that he was going to sue the Government for the pain he had suffered while in detention for more than six months. Seven Muslim organisations promised to support his case -Mwananchi

HARMONY
British High Commissioner Richard Clarke has commended the religious harmony that prevails among Muslim and Christian communities in both Britain and Tanzania. He was speaking after handing over a newly constructed laboratory, library and computer rooms donated by ‘Muslim Aid of the UK’ to the Twayibat Islamiya Secondary school in Temeke District. The school was described in the Guardian as a co-educational Muslim seminary. It was inaugurated in 1995 by former President Mwinyi as a Madrasa.

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