Violence in Mto wa Mbu
The was a violent incident in Mto wa Mbu, Monduli, at the end of March during which ten people were injured. It was said to have been sparked from preaching by Pastor Richard Chenge from Dar es Salaam, who is alleged to have incited Muslims in the area. Before the chaos started, some Muslims called in the police complaining about the preaching and the district authority intervened calling on the two parties to sit together and resolve the matter. But before this could happen, Muslims stormed the Pentecostal congregation and fighting erupted.

The Dar es Salaam Guardian wrote a strong editorial. Extracts:

‘We strongly condemn any violence linked to religion because it does not bode well for the attributes of peace, unity and tolerance our nation has been promoting and protecting since birth. We believe that violence is never a means to correct a wrong or achieve religious harmony, where other remedies haven’t been exhausted. We say this bearing in mind the adverse consequences it has caused to millions of innocent people across the world….

Religious communities are meant to live and teach forgiveness, love, peace and tolerance as their holy books command them. Where misunderstandings arise they should engage in interfaith dialogue…. We are witnessing some newspapers and religious radios and tabloids that prompt religious conflicts in the country. The latter, instead of teaching their listeners and readers religious or moral values, have been busy instigating hatred and discontent under the pretext of freedom of expression and opinion.

But what surprises us most is to see that the responsible authorities are just silent even where they should have acted.

We suggest the following:

Religious communities should refrain from insulting believers of other faiths or using their scriptures inappropriately. Doing this does not add any value to their belief system or salvation. It only shows the ignorance or prejudices they have against their counterparts. Responsible authorities should warn politicians and clerics, who manifestly instigate religious hatred or discontent. It should also warn or deregister radios or religious tabloids that spread religious hatred.’

Catholic bishop warns CCM government on divisive propaganda
The Catholic Arch-Bishop of Mwanza, Jude Thaddeus Ruwa’iich has accused the CCM government of conducting a smear campaign by associating the Catholic Church with the opposition party Chadema. The Bishop, who is also the President of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), was speaking ahead of an Episcopal consecration service for the new Dodoma Archbishop. He said some CCM cadres had been openly associating the Church with former Chadema presidential candidate, Dr. Wilbroad Slaa. “We don’t promote religious divisions; and we have never done so before,” said Ruwaich. “Our goal has always been the pursuit for truth. We challenge bad decisions and ask questions whenever things aren’t being run well – Mwananchi.

Cardinal Pengo says Chadema poses no threat
Following claims by some CCM leaders that big political rallies being organised around the country by Chadema are a threat to peace, Catholic leader Cardinal Polycarp Pengo said that he sees no such threat. Instead, he advised the government to look into the root cause of people’s complaints over the high cost of living. “The government should not act on comments from individuals who interpreted Chadema’s public rallies as instigating violence. It should carefully examine the situation and come up with amicable solutions,” he said – Mwananchi.

Mufti accuses Chadema of breach of the peace
The Chief Sheikh of Tanzania, Mufti Shaaban bin-Simba, has expressed concern over an emergence of what he referred to as religiously motivated politicians who incite breaches of the peace. The Mufti pointed out that the Chadema rallies are calculated at weakening President Jakaya Kikwete. “We have been quiet for sometime, but we should openly fight against allegations that the current government is illegitimate simply because the president is a Muslim. If some people want to bring about demonstrations that are characterised by violence – like what is happening in some other African countries where there are gunshots everywhere – then such people are very dangerous,” he said.

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