Archive for Religion

FAITH NEWS

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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BISHOPS & HOMOSEXUALITY

If there were any doubt about the importance of one subject at the Lambeth Conference held in July/August and attended by 650 Anglican bishops from around the world, this was allayed by a glance at the Church of England Newspaper of July 25 while the conference was going on. There were no less than seven articles touching on homosexuality under such headings as ‘Call for gay bishop to resign rocks Lambeth,’ ‘Lambeth legitimacy called into question,’ ‘Tribunal over police action on gay policy,’ ‘a legacy from Newman to Lambeth,’ ‘Tense times behind the scenes…’ Those against ordination of gay priests were quoted as saying that in some places (particularly in Asia and Africa) the church was being ridiculed as ‘the gay church’ and that membership was suffering. Homosexuality was said to be seen by some as a new form of colonialisation which could lead to sexual licence.

Tanzania

Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo

Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo

As I entered the room where the Britain-Tanzania Society was entertaining to lunch a dozen Tanzanian bishops attending the conference, I was immediately approached by Bishop Godfrey Mdimi Mhogolo of the Diocese of Central Tanzania. Read the rest of this entry »

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OIC – WILL TANZANIA JOIN?

The capital city of Senegal, Dakar, looks to the visitor like one huge building site with the construction of 40 kilometers of new roads in the heart of the city, six new 5-star hotels with 1,000 rooms and other facilities, using generous funding provided by the oil-rich Islamic states. It has been chosen to host the 11th summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit which will be attended by some 7,000 delegates from 57 countries in March 2008.

Tanzania is not a member of the OIC although in 1992 Zanzibar caused something of a stir when it joined unilaterally without apparently consulting the Union Government of Tanzania. However, its membership lasted only one year because the OIC, under its rules can only accept as members fully sovereign states. The Government of Tanzania had strong reservations about Zanzibar’s action as it believed that it was not in the best interests of the country to join an organisation representing only one of Tanzania’s religions.

This sensitive issue has been discussed from time to time over the last few years with Zanzibar apparently still keen to join.

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FAITH NEWS

The President and PopeThe President and First Lady meet with Pope Benedict XVI – photo Issah Michuzi

Pope Benedict XVI has promised to visit Tanzania after receiving an invitation from President Kikwete, who met the Pope at the Holy See in October. The Pope commended Tanzania for upholding tolerance and religious harmony. “Tanzania is among the most peaceful countries in the world – it does not deny sleep to the Vatican” he said – Guardian. Read the rest of this entry »

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FAITH NEWS

According to the Muslim paper An-Nuur a plot has been hatched in the USA to introduce Islamic Studies in schools in such a way as to restrict the interpretation of the Koran. The idea was to turn Muslims into stooges of the West, also known as ‘moderates’. Under the scheme various governments, including the Tanzanian, had been ‘persuaded’ by the USA to adopt the curriculum.

An Nuur has also complained that in the 2007/08 intake for some twenty courses at the state-owned Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Ardhi Universities not a single Muslim student had been selected. Subjects included were BA (History) and BSc (Computer Science). In the BA (Education) course there are only 26 Muslims out of 107 students. Dodoma University was said to be taking a total of 415 students of whom only 70 were Muslims.

According to Majira Muslims in Tanga are demanding that a secondary school teacher be expelled after controversial remarks he made during a General Study class. It is alleged that while discussing gender and culture with ‘A’ level students he said that Islam oppressed women. Citing an example, he said the Prophet Mohammed had married four wives and had five concubines. Muslim students then walked out and decided to boycott the class. The teacher was transferred.

An alcohol merchant of Asian descent was seriously injured after unknown people sprayed acid on him at his shop in Michenzani, Zanzibar. The assailants had covered their faces with stockings. A manhunt was said to be under way. According to Nipashe the attack was faith-motivated. Recently, Muslim activists have been complaining of ‘moral erosion’ through increasing influx of foreign influences.

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AVOIDING SCHISM IN THE ‘HAVEN OF PEACE’

The international Anglican Church, a federation of 38 national churches, with 77 million adherents, chose Dar es Salaam, the ‘Haven of Peace’, as the gathering place to deal with the threat of schism facing it over homosexual priests and same-sex marriages as well as the issue of women bishops. Read the rest of this entry »

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DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE

The much criticized film ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ continues to have repercussions. (It was reviewed in the last issue of TA – Editor).

Christian leaders have urged the government to review its policy on licensing of film production. Bishop Charles Gadi of the ‘Good News For All Ministry’ condemned the film saying it not only demeaned the country’s culture and values but also endangered peace. He said 43 sects under his leadership supported the statement by President Kikwete condemning the film. “The government has to beware of film makers who have ulterior motives,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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FAITH NEWS

Churches to petition government for a Christian Court
According to Majira, religious antagonism that has been going on covertly came out into the open following a statement by some churches demanding their own court. Some Christian professionals were said to have come up with a draft bill aimed at establishing a Christian court so as to counter the move by government to start a Kadhi court for Muslims. One of the participants claimed that the government was showing signs of jettisoning its secular approach. Read the rest of this entry »

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NEWS FROM THE FAITHS

Following a spate of burning of churches in Zanzibar, the Zanzibar Diocese of the Catholic Church announced that it would punish a local clergyman following his statement that Catholics were praying for CCM to win the general elections as an opposition victory would spell the end of churches in Zanzibar… A spokesman said that the church was not aligned with any political party…. but since it was an institution that upheld good conduct, it had every right to speak out against evil deeds such as the burning of churches. Zanzibar Archbishop Shao said that Catholics had been harassed and church leaders accused of bringing into Zanzibar ‘mercenaries’ since the introduction of political pluralism in the isles. “I’m not bringing in voters from the Mainland nor am I being paid by the Zanzibar government” he said. CUF hailed the Church’s decision to reprimand the priest.
Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi has donated TSh 25m/- towards the development of the Islamic University which was established by the Islamic Development Institute of Tanzania in Morogoro last year. President Mkapa had earlier donated TSh 10m/- towards the establishment of the university – Guardian.
Last September bishops of seven dioceses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania called on the Church’s Secretary-General, Amani Mwenegoha, to resign, accusing him of usurping powers and causing divisions in the church. They were alleged to have involved the Church in a case he filed against former Prime Minister, Cleopa Msuya.

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NEWS FROM THE FAITHS

The former Institute of TANESCO in Morogoro is to be converted into a Muslim University. This was announced by President Mkapa when he was inaugurating the Muslim Development Foundation (MDF) in May. TShs 1bn/- has been collected for the project. The President contributed TShs 10m/- to the fund and Vice-President Ali Mohammed Shein pledged TShs 5m/-.
Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume contributed TShs 9m/- and Prime Minister, Frederick Sumaye, pledged TShs 5m/-. – Guardian.
Muslims who camped in Mwanza for a week doing self-help work in constructing a secondary school have been hailed as a people who have ‘rediscovered themselves.’ Imams who participated in the self-help project called on Muslims to stop complaining and do whatever they can to liberate themselves from poverty and ignorance – An-Nuur.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Jakaya Kikwete has revealed that certain people are questioning his close relationship with the Lugoba Catholic Church in his constituency of Chalinze. “Some say I have a political agenda in donating handsomely to Lugoba Church while others, especially fellow Muslims, have gone to the extent of questioning my sincerity in the Islamic faith that I profess.” He said that he was helped by Lugoba church to pursue further studies and that he could have ended at Standard IV in school if it were not for the church’s assistance – Mwananchi.

Bishop Godfrey Mhogolo of the Central Tanganyika Diocese of the Anglican Church was quoted in The Mirror (July 13) as saying that the Government was spending a lot of taxpayers’ money on unnecessary seminars and workshops in big conference halls instead of addressing the problems facing village folk. On next year’s general elections, Bishop Mhogolo advised Tanzanians to take whatever they might be given by the candidates as bribes to buy their votes, but said that such candidates should not be voted in. “I want this message to spread that if a stupid candidate comes to you and gives you money, cloth, alcohol or whatever to influence your decision, take it but do not vote for him/her,” he said.

Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives should debate the increasing number of churches now under construction in the Isles especially in rural Zanzibar and not the legality of the operations of the radical Uamsho group of Moslems (JUMIKI) according to the Islamic newspaper An-Nuur. The MP’s should also ask the Government if it was aware of the existence of a questionnaire with 71 difficult questions set by the Tanzania Pentecostal Church. Failing to answer these questions was the cause of many Moslems joining Christianity. This move came after some MP’s had asked the Government in the House to de-register JUMIKI for allegedly inciting the largely Moslem population of Zanzibar.

There was fighting and chaos at a burial ceremony in Shinyanga municipality involving Moslems and Christians when an Acting Secretary of the main Mosque in Ndala Division, Ramadhani Kitumbo, announced that Christians and non-believers were not allowed to participate in burial and wedding ceremonies that involved Moslems. According to Mtanzania one of the Moslems attending the funeral told journalists that the order to segregate Christians and non-believers was issued by a special Moslem Committee. Another said that aggrieved Moslems had joined their Christian and pagan relatives to fight the fundamentalist section of the Moslem community in the area. The radical Imam involved was subsequently summoned and warned.
The Express in its July 5th issue reported that the US would increase the amount of money designated for Tanzania in its fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. The article then went on to examine the attitude of the Catholic Church to Aids. Extracts: ‘Although caring for many AIDS sufferers in the country, it has been argued that the Church is a killer rather than a healer. Its critics say that as long as it continues to reject condoms, it can be charged with contributing to the spread of the disease. Following the teachings of the Church, the proper and only way of halting the spread is to foster a change in moral behaviour. The Pope had made it clear however that the Church would not change its perception on condoms and soften its ban, despite the prevailing circumstances of rapid spread of the disease. The Church refused to deal with human realities and, because of this, Christian teaching would be upheld at the cost of many people’s lives…. A church that did not pay respect to the circumstances in which it preaches had failed in its mission….’
The Government of Zanzibar sent Sheikh Kurwa Shauri back to his home in Tabora insisting that his actions posed a threat to national security. Muslim fundamentalists then started a campaign aimed at pressing the Government to reverse its decision. Sheikh Shauri had been arrested at the Zanzibar port the moment he set foot on the Isles as an order issued in 1993 was still valid. He was said to have been repeatedly warned to stop making derogatory statements.

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