Archive for Religion

MULTIPLE ARRESTS FOR “HOMOSEXUALITY”

Authorities in Zanzibar in September 2017 detained 20 people accused of engaging in same-sex activities, another incident in an ongoing crackdown on homosexuality in Tanzania. Twelve women and eight men were arrested following a police raid on a hotel where the suspects were attending a workshop, said regional police chief Hassan Ali. “We rounded them up because we suspect that they were engaged in homosexuality in Zanzibar, which is illegal in Zanzibar and is against the law of the country,” he said, adding that police “will intensify (their) vigilance against those groups.”

Under a colonial-era law, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is a criminal offence in Tanzania. Sex among men is punishable by jail terms ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment.

A year earlier, in September 2016, the government temporarily suspended HIV/AIDS outreach projects targeting gay men. And in February 2017, the government stopped 40 privately run health centres from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of catering to homosexuals.

It is reported that “several dozen” people have been arrested since December 2016 for “homosexuality” or “promoting homosexuality”.

More recently, in October, thirteen human rights lawyers and activists were arrested while holding a meeting at the Peacock Hotel in Dar es Salaam for “promoting homosexuality.” Lazaro Mambosasa, Dar es Salaam head of police, confirmed the arrests, stating that the “criminals” had violated Tanzanian law. The meeting had been organized by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), a Pan African organization whose mandate is to advance women’s and sexual rights. ISLA say homosexuality was not on the agenda at their meeting.

“Its aim was to explore the possibility of mounting legal challenges to the government’s ban on drop-in centres serving key populations at risk of HIV, as well as the ban on importation of water-based lubricants, an essential HIV prevention tool,” said a statement issued by Human Rights Watch, a partner of ISLA.

In a separate incident, a woman in Geita could face jail after a video of her kissing another woman and presenting her with a ring went viral on social media. She was arrested in the town after the clip of her at a party was widely shared.

President Magufuli has threatened to arrest and expel activists and to de-register organisations that campaign for gay rights.

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RISING RELIGIOUS TENSIONS

Father Evarist Mushi, a 55 year old Roman Catholic Priest, was shot dead on February 17th, in Mtoni near Stone Town, Zanzibar. Just two days later, a church was burnt down, also on Zanzibar. This brings the total of attacks on religious institutions in Tanzania in recent years to
26. (The Guardian)

President Kikwete spoke about the rising religious tensions in his monthly address to the nation at the end of February. He expressed his shock at the situation, asking “Tanzanians have never been this way… what has happened?

“The government will not hesitate to take action against people who are promoting religious hate, defiling holy books and those who ridicule others’ beliefs… I have reminded the police and other authorities not to take these issues lightly.”

Some have drawn a link between these attacks and terrorism, includ­ing the East African newspaper. This claim has been lent credibility by reports that US agencies are supporting the investigation into Father Mushi’s murder. Others link the attacks to a growing separatist move­ment on Zanzibar, which seeks independence from mainland Tanzania.

Attacks have not been limited to the Isles, however. Also in February, the small town of Buseresere, Geita region, witnessed the beheading of Rev Mathayo Kachila, a pastor with the Tanzanian Assemblies of God church amid religious clashes. This incident and the rioting in Tunduma (see below) related to disputes over whether Christians should have the right to slaughter animals for public consumption. Earlier violence in Dar es Salaam has targeted both Muslims and Christians.

At the beginning of April riots in Tunduma on the Tanzania/Zambia border caused the Tanzanian authorities to temporarily close the bor­der. According to the Citizen, the clashes were over ‘religious misunder­standings’ on slaughtering rituals in the border town. The rioting erupted after a crowd gathered to oppose the idea that it was Muslims alone who were permitted to slaughter animals. All social and economic activities were forced to stop for several hours. According to the police, a group of hooligans demanded that Christians should also be allowed to slaughter animals and then proceeded to the Mwaka area in Tunduma, where they destroyed a mosque that was under con­struction. Two people, including a police officer, were seriously injured and forty others were arrested. Police in Mbeya Region ordered the Tunduma Ward Councillor Frank Mwakajoka and a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), Gidion Mwamafupa, to surren­der themselves to the police for allegedly fuelling the violence.

The head of the Catholic Church in Tanzania, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, used his Easter greetings to accuse the police of failing in their duty to maintain order. “I cannot say that I am satisfied with investigations into the killing of the priest,” he said, in reference to Father Mushi. He went on to call for open dialogue between the Muslim and Christian communities. (The Citizen)

This call has been echoed by politicians of all stripes. James Mbatia MP, NCCR-Mageuzi chairperson, said in his capacity as chair of the multi­party Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) “We have collectively agreed with religious leaders to discuss the tense situation and find a solution.” CUF national chairman Ibrahim Lipumba said national leaders should be brought together for discussions to be chaired by President Jakaya Kikwete. CCM Secretary for Ideology and Publicity Nape Nnauye also said religious leaders should to meet for talks and find a permanent solution to the situation. (The Citizen)

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Trouble on the mainland and in Zanzibar
At least 1,202 people were arrested in connection with violent clashes in Dar es Salaam’s Mbagala suburb on October 12 between anti-riot police and Muslim youths protesting an alleged act by a 14-year-old boy of desecrating the Quran. The riots erupted when the youths stormed a police station and demanded that the boy be handed over to them so that he could be punished.

Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Suleiman Kova said that 32 of those arrested allegedly vandalised and torched church buildings while 86 were arrested for demonstrating. He named the churches that were attacked as including Shimo la Mchanga (Tanzania Assenblies of God TAG), Kizuiani Seventh Day Adventist (SDA),the Church of Christ at Rangitatu, Kizuiani Anglican church, Agape at Kibondemaji and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) at Mbagala Zakhiem. A car was burnt and eight others had their windows smashed.

ELCT Head Bishop Alex Malasusa appealed to Christians to remain calm as their leaders worked on the matter. “We need to meet with leaders of other Christian denominations so that we’ll come up with a joint position. We ask Christians to take part in Sunday services and pray for peace and the future of our country.” Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) Secretary General, Fr Anthony Makundi, said the gruesome incident should remind Tanzanians of the need to embrace the culture of respecting each other’s faith. Africa Inland Church Bishop Peter Kitula said he was saddened by the incident and the country should learn techniques of solving its problems in a peaceful manner.

For his part, Council of Islamic Organisations Secretary General Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda blamed the police for causing the turmoil. “I think the police mishandled the matter. They failed to give it its due weight when the boy was initially sent to them. Muslims were enraged by this police laxity, making them feel sidelined.”

Human rights activist Helen Kijo-Bisimba said the government delayed in taking appropriate action. “Had the authorities acted speedily, the matter would not have gotten out of hand,” she argued. But opposition party NCCR-Mageuzi Secretary General Samuel Ruhuza attributed the incident to the high level of unemployment.

People had a lot to say on social networks, as revealed in the Citizen. One wrote: ‘A prank between two school kids escalating into such a disproportionate reaction is totally inappropriate and unjustified. Religious leaders should inculcate restraint and discipline and should not justify mob justice. There should be a civilised response. The real issue here was not the Koran – the Word of Allah. It was a matter of childish argument and action by children, causing chaos by breaking the property of churches. It is mere hooliganism by children.

The view of the London Economist

On November 3, a comprehensive article headed: ‘Contagion of discontent. Muslim extremism spreads down East Africa’s coastline’ analysed some of the background. Extracts:

It is a century since cartographers drew East Africa’s coastal strip as a single territory. A map from 1876 shows “Zanziebar” stretching from what is now southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. In the colonial carve-up that followed, lines were drawn between the port cities of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam and the island of Zanzibar. The Swahili coast, named after a language created by the cohabitation of inland Bantu tribes and Arab traders and slavers, was at various times divided between four colonial countries: Britain, Germany, Italy and Portugal. Their vast possessions in the hinterland eventually became Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and Mozambique. Yet in terms of culture, religion and geography the coastal strip, especially its swathe in the middle, has retained a distinct identity.

Rising discontent. Inequality, land grabs and corruption have soured many coastal communities in recent years. In radical Islam some now find an outlet for their anger. A spate of apparently unrelated church burnings, riots, disappearances and assassinations has swept the coast. Secessionist sentiment is rising. In Stone Town, Zanzibar, angry slogans decorate mouldy concrete walls denouncing “Muungano”, Swahili for the Union with the mainland. Since October 16 rioters have repeatedly clashed with police, following the brief disappearance of a popular local cleric. Farid Hadi Ahmed, the leader of Uamsho, or “Awakening”, which has recently evolved from a religious charity into an Islamist political movement demanding independence for Zanzibar, restrictions on alcohol consumption and a dress code for the tens of thousands of foreign tourists visiting the island every year.

Political violence is not new to Zanzibar, nor is unease among religious conservatives over the behaviour of holidaymakers. But Uamsho has succeeded in funnelling cultural and political tensions into support for radical Islamism. The group denies involvement in church burning but openly feeds resentment of Wabara, or mainland Tanzanians. Supporters are implicated in attacks on bars said to be owned by immigrants. Almas Ali, a history teacher, calls the 1964 union with the mainland a “bad marriage”. A divorce, he says, is long overdue. Grievances include the loss of tax privileges in the 1990s that hit transit trading, and Tanzania’s failure to join the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, a club of Muslim countries that locals hoped would channel aid to Zanzibar.

Islamist hotheads used to support Tanzania’s main opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF). But in 2010 it formed a unity government with the ruling Revolutionary Party (CCM) following unrest amid accusations of voter fraud. This disappointed many Zanzibari supporters and created a political vacuum on the island. Ismail Jussa, the deputy CUF leader, says, “By the time we woke up, we found ourselves engulfed by this religious group.”

Officially, unemployment on the islands is 34% but officials at the Zanzibar Chamber of Commerce say the real rate is much higher, with youth joblessness and underemployment estimated at 85%.

Across the border, Tanzania’s business capital, Dar es Salaam, has been rocked by the worst religious riots in years. Churches were looted and burned on October 12th. Sheikh Issa Ponda, a radical cleric, has been arrested and accused of inciting violence. If the secessionist groups up and down the coast link up, they could become a powerful dissident force.

The recent discovery of gas along the coast could make things still worse. Mohamed Hafidh Khalfan, an economist at the State University of Zanzibar, fears a Nigerian-style insurgency, “Poverty is like a fuel that just needs a spark to blow it up.”

(Some observers thought that this article exaggerated the situation in Tanzania and was unnecessarily alarmist – Editor).

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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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Presidents Kikwete and Museveni attended prayers for Mwalimu Nyerere’s proposed beatification in Kampala on June 1. President Kikwete thanked Ugandans for ‘owning’ the process of beatification, a vital stage towards canonisation or his proclamation as a saint by the Catholic Church. Kikwete said that by doing so, the Catholics in Uganda had “in actual fact owned a process that was essentially Tanzanian”.

President Museveni said that Tanzania was the only peaceful country in the whole of East Africa, thanks to the good foundations laid by Mwalimu Nyerere. He pointed out that good people would always be judged by their deeds and not words, giving as an example a reference to the injured person who was helped by a Good Samaritan after a priest and a Pharisee passed him without offering any help.

The Association of Imams in Zanzibar (JUMAZA), with 18 other Muslim organisations, called upon people to vote ‘yes’ in the Zanzibar referendum on a government of national unity. It was the only way in which the people of the Isles could get rid of the political animosity that had been dogging the islands for decades – Nipashe.

Following news that a conference organised by the American Political Science Association (APSA) might be held at Dar es Salaam University, and that gay people would be attending, several Muslim clerics were quoted as saying that this would be tantamount to provoking disorder. They said that the people would not sit quiet while their country was turned into a ‘centre of debauchery’. “If this protest is ignored we shall stop them physically” they said – An-Nuur.

The Association of Imams in Zanzibar (JUMAZA) has called upon Muslims to protest at the Child Act 2010, as it contradicts the Islamic Sheria. JUMAZA Secretary General Maalim Zubeir issued a statement saying that the Act would not be applicable as it was contrary to the ‘customs and traditions’ of Muslims in the Isles. For example, he said, “The Act criminalises corporal punishment while in Islam it is allowed as long as it doesn’t cause physical injury to the child. Caning a child is allowed when he/she refuses to pray” – An-Nuur.

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Secular law
The Ministry of Home Affairs has told local authorities to take measures against religious denominations that are violating the law. A Ministry spokesperson told Habari Leo that though the government is for freedom of worship, when it comes to secular laws they have to be enforced. He said churches have mushroomed all over the country, some of them forbidding their children from singing the national anthem in schools or seeking medical treatment in hospitals.

Evangelicals advance
With an increase of about 670,000 (14.5%) new members last year, it has been claimed that Tanzania now has the second largest (after Sweden) Lutheran Church congregation in the world. Tanzania’s record increase brings its membership to a total of 5,300,000.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) of Tanzania, which is affiliated to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), also holds the top position in Africa. Worldwide the Church has an estimated 70 million adherents. Even though all the Lutheran churches in Africa were shown as having recorded high growth rates, Tanzania had the strongest showing.

In recent years mainstream churches have been showing alarm at the high rate at which they have been losing members to mushrooming evangelical sects. The Catholic Church, with a membership of 9.5 million members or about 25% of the total population in Tanzania, remains the largest Christian group in the country – The Citizen.

Praying for a coalition
The Society for Islamic Propagation (UAMSHO) has been arranging services to pray for a coalition government in Zanzibar. Head of the society Sheikh Azan said that the aim was to pray for the success of the ‘rapprochement’ between President Amani Karume and CUF Secretary General Seif Sharif Hamad and for the formation of a coalition government – Nipashe.

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In recent months, an avalanche of circulars released by various faith-based organisations, ahead of the 2010 general elections, has descended on Tanzanians. The process was set in motion by the Roman Catholic Church whose circular counsels individuals to vote wisely and bravely and to reject ‘corrupt power mongers’. The circular ignited a heated debate, with some ruling party leaders strongly attacking the move, alleging that it was endangering the nation’s unity and that the Church was ‘diverting from its core mission of preaching the word of God and instead playing politics.’ The leader of the Catholic Church told critics not to teach church leaders how to perform their duties, and pointed out that the document was a civic education initiative to guide voters on exercising their electoral rights responsibly.

The Government advised Muslim leaders against issuing a document similar to the controversial Catholic booklet so as to create disharmony in the country. But they went ahead and launched their 45-page document called ‘Mwongozo’ at a rally attended by thousands at the Mnazi Mmoja grounds in Dar es Salaam. They that it was ‘intended to guide followers on important social and political issues ahead of the elections’ It traces the role played by Muslims in the struggle against British colonialism and describes what it perceives as discrimination against Muslims in the post-Independence period. Muslims are now asked to vote for leaders who are going to ‘defend their rights’ (from Habari Leo and many other papers).
President Kikwete said his entire government was unhappy with the religious manifestos. “We would not like to go into the elections next year with people voting by following instructions from their clerics,” he said.

Muslims tear down billboards
Muslims in Morogoro took to the streets in Morogoro uprooting billboards and posters promoting disco and musical programmes for the Idd festival. They told reporters that they objected to Muslim festivals being used to promote ‘forbidden practices’. One said “For us Idd entails prayers and not debauchery” – Majira.

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Both the Catholic Church and the Muslim hierarchy have been involved in controversy during recent weeks. The Church issued a pastoral letter which resulted in what Prime Minister Pinda described as a ‘hot debate’ because to Muslims it represented interference in the political process. Then the Muslim authorities stepped up their campaign against what they considered to be excessive Christian pressure forcing the government to ban the spread of Sharia law.

The Roman Catholic Church
This Church published an 18-page booklet entitled ‘Mpango wa Kichungaji Kuhamasisha Jamii Kuelekea Uchaguzi’ (A Pastoral Project to Sensitise People Towards the Elections) authored by the Catholic Professionals of Tanzania and the Tanzania Episcopal Conference’s Justice and Peace Commission which has caused great controversy. The aim was said to be to help their believers to be better informed on political issues and on how to question prospective holders of political office before the 2010 general elections. The document said that the country was experiencing ‘serious leadership problems’ and called on all Catholics to participate in the forthcoming elections to choose good leaders. The aim was to sensitise the people… to take action in rectifying bad things and strengthening good ones. The sensitisation project started in January 2009 and has 15 phases.

Veteran CCM MP Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru speaking in the National Assembly urged the Church to withdraw the document which was ‘divisive’, could spark ‘unnecessary chaos’ and was against the principles of unity. “I was surprised to see the document,” he said, “because, during the era of the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere and TANU, all leaders were united…. This time it is the Catholic Church, next probably the Evangelical Lutheran Church will come with its own statement and so will the Anglicans and the Muslims,” he said. The MP warned that the move was a threat to religious tolerance and could influence people to choose national leaders on religious grounds.

A senior state official told Raia Mwema that they were concerned about the letter, circulated to all parishes, which had poked holes in government and CCM policies. A young CCM leader, Nape Nnauye, told a rally in Dar that the Church had called upon Tanzanians not to elect corrupt leaders. “Anyone against the manifesto is playing into the hands of the corrupt” he said. CCM Secretary General Makamba said Ngombale was expressing his personal opinion and did not represent the party. House Speaker Sitta and CCM Party Vice-Chairman Msekwa also said they saw nothing wrong in the pastoral letter as it did not go against the law or constitution – Majira

The Church hit back at the wave of criticism. President of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), Archbishop Jude Ruwaichi, said that critics should not comment on the circular which they had not thoroughly read nor understood. Such people were viewing the letter with the background of the forthcoming elections “Our intention is to empower the voters to understand the value of their vote and how they can identify capable leaders.”

Prime Minister Pinda, speaking in parliament, distanced himself from showing whether the government supported the church initiative or not. He said the church should not ignore what the public were debating about its circular. He warned over the possibility of other religious institutions coming up with their own circulars to sensitise their worshipers on civic education. “I have not seen such a circular during the last two elections. Why now?” he asked.
However, he expressed his optimism that the controversy would not culminate in a deterioration of the political atmosphere.

The Muslim Council (BAKWATA) then entered the fray. The churches should not try and install their preferred political leaders by influencing the elections next year, because that would be unconstitutional. It would be wrong for them to establish the qualities of leaders to be elected, as it was not their job to do so said Mwanza Regional Secretary Mohammed Said Balla. He said that since January this year Christian clerics had been holding seminars telling worshippers whom to elect – Mtanzania.

Sharia Courts
Following the government’s decision not to allow Sharia courts in Tanzania, BAKWATA called upon Muslims all over the country to boycott CCM candidates in the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local government elections. The Chief Sheikh, Mufti Issa Simba, said it was obvious that the government was succumbing to pressure from Christian clerics. Muslims had been demanding a Sharia court for 20 years but all they got was empty promises. Several sheikhs supported the Mufti and one criticised Muslim MP’s who were ‘tight-lipped on the matter.’ Answering an MP in the National Assembly who asked why CCM had “cheated” the people by promising a Sharia court in its manifesto, Prime Minister Pinda called upon people to be patient. Since the issue was sensitive, government had to be careful. Speaker Samuel Sitta intervened to state that the manifesto had not promised a Sharia court but only said it would ‘look into the possibility’ – Mwananchi.

On July 9 a panel of ten Muslim clerics from several mainland regions gave the PM two weeks to declare when a Sharia court would be established. They warned if this was not done they would launch a country-wide campaign to convince Muslims not to vote for CCM. Mufti Shaaban Issa Simba appointed a special committee to pursue the matter, and called upon Muslims to stay calm.
At a meeting of 1,000 Muslims it was stated that they were more capable than BAKWATA to mobilise the Muslim masses. The meeting donated Shs 1.8 million to start the campaign. Several MPs said a Sharia court would ensure that women got their rights. Mgeni Kadida MP (Special Seats – CUF) said she couldn’t understand why the government was against the Court while it existed in places such as Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar which were multi-cultural and multi-faith societies. Defending the Court, she said: “Under a Sharia Court a widow would have the right to live in her husband’s house until she completed the four-month mourning period.” With a Sharia Court no one would dare throw her out she said – Majira.

Six Muslim organisations including Bakwata, the Istiqaama Community, the Dar es Salaam Islamic Club, the Ishnasheri Community and the Muslim Professional Organisation TAMPRO decided to hold a whole-night prayer session calling for a Sharia court. A protest march was planned in support of a statement by some 300 imams from various mosques who had met in Kariakoo. Former Minister for Industry and Trade Dr Juma Ngasongwa said it was a mistake for government to delay its decision on the Sharia court when the election was just around the corner. The matter had been discussed for 20 years and this had led to the present conflict with Muslims. The Sharia court had existed under colonial rule but then the government had dissolved it –Majira

Muslim political party introduced at mosque

Representatives of a new political party based in the Middle East, Hizb ut-Tahrir, arrived in Tanzania while the religious debate was continuing. It was introduced at a well-attended international colloquium at a mosque in Dar es Salaam. A representative from Mombassa told reporters that his party did not need to be registered because it “followed the teachings of the Koran.” He said that the party, founded in Al Quds (Palestine) in 1953, aimed at Islamic rule (Khilafah) in Muslim majority countries, while in countries such as Tanzania the aim was to “awaken Muslims through intellectual discourse” – Mtanzania.

Gays appeal to the UN
Gay rights activists in the country have complained to the UN Human Rights Commission, claiming that their rights are being trampled on in Tanzania, contrary to the country’s constitution. They want the Penal Code to be amended. But, according to Mwananchi, they were facing strong admonition from religious bodies which considered gay rights to be against religious teachings and moral values. Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Dar es Salaam Methodius Kilaini said: “If they were disabled then we would understand, but what they want is unacceptable. God has created two sexes and that is how it will remain.”

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KITCHEN PARTIES (BRIDAL SHOWERS)

IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs wrote in November about ‘Kitchen parties’ (bridal showers) now becoming popular in Dar es Salaam. Extracts:

Tips for managing domestic arguments and ensuring a happy sex life are just some of the bits of wisdom passed on at kitchen parties. No subject is taboo as the guests prepare brides-to-be for life as a wife….

Scores of elegantly attired female guests attended a recent kitchen party for a 25-year-old banker where the only men were the cameramen and disc-jockey. Gifts, mainly domestic utensils and kitchen equipment, were piled on an elevated platform where the bride-to-be patiently awaited her lesson. A procession of relatives and friends, each with years of marriage experience, took their turns on the microphone.

“If he comes home late, ask the house-girl [domestic worker] to open the door to show him you’re upset,” one elder suggested. “You are the one to wash the bed sheets clean and white,” another guest reminded her.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The IOC controversy

Something of a hornets nest was stirred up by Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe when he dared to intervene in a Muslim-Christian dispute.

The Muslim people of Zanzibar have been pressing for years for Tanzania (or, at least Zanzibar by itself) to join the Organisation of the Muslim Conference (OIC). The Minister hinted that there might be some economic advantages in joining, even though Tanzania was a secular country. (For background see TA No 89).

The debate then escalated. On October 24 the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) called for the Minister’s resignation. His proposal would violate the country`s constitution. CCT Deputy Chairman Bishop Peter Kitula said section 19 (2) of the Union Constitution spelt out that Tanzania was a secular state and that religious issues were separated from all duties of running the country. He said the section was completely against the OIC charter (revised in March 2008) whose Section 1 (11) states: `to amend, promote, and preserve Islamic teachings and values based on modernisation and tolerance, promote Islamic culture and safeguard Islamic heritage. “We do not want religiosity here and we are not talking of any particular religion but there are people who have a hidden agenda while knowing that our constitution does not allow that.” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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