MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS

Former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi recently advised Muslims not to use the Koran as a pretext for causing trouble, which ended up endangering the country’s peace and harmony. Closing a symposium for Muslim leaders on peace, unity and development he called on Muslim youth to learn the true meaning of the verses of the Koran which would help them avert misunderstandings between them and followers of other religions. Mwinyi attributed turmoil in Muslim populated areas to the preaching of violence by some Muslim leaders -Nipashe.

The Muslim organisation BAKWATA has complained about the rapidly mushrooming bars, alcohol selling outlets and brothels in Dar Es Salaam and has advised its leader, Chief Sheikh Mufti Issa Shaaban bin Simba, to ask the Government to deal with the situation. -Mwananchi.

Muslim activists staged a demonstration in Dar Es Salaam in late June and marched through the streets demanding that the US ‘leaves Tanzania alone and not make it its colony’. The activists failed to breach security force barriers on their way to the US embassy. They were protesting against the detention by security agents of certain Muslim leaders and carried placards conveying messages such as ‘Murder, robbery and deception is the American way’, ‘Afghanistan, Iraq and now Tanzania’ ‘Are terrorists Muslims only?’ and ‘The President of Tanzania is like Bush’ -Mwananchi.

Muslims in Morogoro are showing signs of division. There are said to be two groups -a moderate group led by the Regional Bakwata Imam, Omar Bafadhil and a radical group led by the Morogoro District Imam, Sheikh Mohamed Kairo, who favours anti-Government preaching in mosques. Sheikh Bafadhil is reported to be irritated by a group of radicals turning the mosque into a political platform with radical imams from Dar Es Salaam preaching anti-Government sentiments and advocating violence against non­Moslems -An Nuur.

In Zanzibar the Government is said to be looking into the possibility of removing all alcohol selling centres and bars from residential areas -An Nuur.

Beauty contests are under fire again in Tanzanian religious circles. The Observer (August 10) interviewed several people: “The government, being the custodian of peace, tranquillity and integrity of the country, has a moral responsibility to safeguard the cultural and religious sentiments of her people, who mandated it to power, otherwise it is betraying them,” said Abdulrahman Kungo, an outspoken Muslim. He pointed out that beauty contests destroyed the moral integrity of teenage boys and girls …… ” Beauty contests are tantamount to rebuking God’s creation. No human being can say a particular girl is better or more beautiful than another.” Mary Kessy, of the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA), said that beauty contests should be stopped; the Government should first ban dresses worn nowadays by most teenage girls which exposed their bodies, contrary to the norms and traditions of the nation. …. Beauty contests exposed the behaviour, nakedness and body structure of a particular lady, which is a shameful act to all of us, she said. The Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam, Methodius Kilaini, said that the Church was studying carefully the bad effects of beauty contests and to what extent these activities were destroying the behaviour of teenagers in the country and going against religious ethics.

In his response, the Executive Secretary of the National Arts Council, Eliewaha Challi, dissociated himself from beauty contest organisers for putting the profession into disrepute when they allowed prostitution to be committed by aspirants. He said “All beauty contests sanctioned by the National Arts Council are regulated and do not allow aspirants to show their nakedness; anybody found flouting these regulations is rebuked, and or suspended.”

Muslims in Dar Es Salaam erected a fence around the Karume cemetery in a bid to bar Ilala Municipal Council workers from digging up the graves and relocating them to Segerea, 15 kms from the city. The Muslims claimed that it was against their faith to dig up graves for unimportant reasons. A 100­man squad was then left guarding the cemetery to keep at bay any Ilala municipal workers who might wish to continue with the relocation of the graves. Speaking to journalists at the site, the Secretary of a Muslim Rights committee, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, who was quoted in Mtanzania said the Ilala Municipality was not certain on what exactly was to be built at the other area which made the move a farce. He said there were many areas in the city that could be used to erect whatever the municipality wanted to build instead of disturbing eternally resting Muslims. On August 15 Ilala District Commissioner Captain Seif Mpembenwe said that Muslim activists camped at Karume cemetery would be removed by force because they had failed to heed a court order by the Ilala District court requiring them to do so. In a related story the activists warned against anyone setting foot on the cemetery saying stern measures would be taken against them. In yet another related story Dar Es Salaam residents of Manyema descent from Kigoma and the Congo have come forward to claim the cemetery as theirs and criticised the Government for acting without consulting them.

Fears of a split in the Catholic Church in Tanzania have grown amid reports that a fundamentalist group preaching contrary to the beliefs of many has defied Cardinal Polycarp Pengo’s orders to stop such preaching. The rebellious group calling itself Karismatiki is said to preach contrary to the beliefs of the Catholic Church that Mary is the Mother of God and that the Holy Ghost really exists. Cardinal Pengo repeated his orders for the group to stop the unholy preaching that turned it into fundamentalism -Majira.

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