Showing posts with label Tanzania. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tanzania. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tanzania: Pastor beheaded as Muslims demand the total Islamisation of the meat industry.

By Elizabeth Kendal

In Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 198, reference is made to the 11 February beheading of a Protestant pastor  in Geita, in north-west Tanzania. This posting examines the context of that killing.

CONTEXT OF THE GEITA KILLING

The 11 February 2013 beheading in Geita, of Pastor Mathayo Kachili of the Tanzania Assemblies of God Church (TAG) has its source in a debate presently raging in Tanzania.

Apparently it is a "long-standing tradition" in Tanzania that Muslims have a monopoly on the meat industry.

Recently however, Christians in Geita district, Mwanza region -- on the southern shores of Lake Victoria -- have entered the butchery trade, causing outrage amongst Muslims.

Tensions escalated over several months until, in early February, the Minister of State in the President's Office responsible for social relations, planning coordination, Mr Stephen Wassira, travelled to Mwanza to meet with Christian and Muslim leaders in an effort to defuse tensions.

THE FOLLY OF APPEASEMENT

According to The Citizen (7 Feb), Mr Stephen Wassira categorically directed that the task of slaughtering animals for public consumption should be executed only by Muslims. He said that people of other faiths may slaughter animals if the meat is solely for family/private consumption – but certainly not for sale to, or consumption by, the general public.

Mr Wassira declared that, should non-Muslims want to go into the meat business, then the slaughtering must be done according to Islamic tenets and rituals. "In effect," writes Karl Lyimo of the Citizen, "the minister has barred non-Muslims from the meat business – unless and until they are ready, willing, able and glad to follow the Islamic rituals to the letter."

Lyimo continues: "Reportedly, religious leaders of the Christian faith were barred by the regional government from making a public statement on the matter for fear of agitating their followers against the 'Wassira Proclamation'. In the event, priests have called upon their followers to 'retaliate' by boycotting 'Muslim-oriented' butcheries – and are planning to seek judicial intervention via the courts system."

See: Does religion have a role in trade, politics?
By Karl Lyimo, The Citizen, 7 Feb 2013

On 11 February, Muslim fury over the Christian boycott of 'Muslim-oriented' butcheries along with the Christian leaders' threat to have the discrimination addressed through the courts erupted into a full-blown pogrom.

A spokesperson for the Geita Regional Police Commander's Office, Mr Denis Stephano, reports that a group of youths believed to be Muslims assaulted several Christians using sticks and machetes and attacked a butchery owner at Buseresere town. During the confrontations pastor Kachili was beheaded. Several others were injured, some critically, and were admitted to Buseresere hospital to receive treatment.

See: Tanzania: TAG Pastor Beheaded in Religious Skirmishes
By Meddy Mulisa, 12 February 2013

Butchers languishing under the boycott are pleading with Christian leaders to just stop rocking the boat! One butcher laments that people are now asking who has killed the meat! "This is a foolish question," he said. "Where is this country heading?" With Islam growing in confidence on account of decades of quiet radicalisation (see RLPB 182) and Christians feeling offended at the prospect being forced to eat halal meat while being discriminated against in the market place, Tanzania may well be heading for trouble.

See: Butchers in a bind as faith row over right to slaughter rages
Saturday, 16 February 2013

For more on the halal meat trade see:  
RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE: SOURCE OF FRACAS BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND GOVERNMENT IN TANZANIA
Posted by Daniel Mwankemwa on 7 February 2013

ISLAMIC INTOLERANCE TO BLAME?

According to Karl Lyimo (The Citizen, 7 Feb) the status quo, wherein the Muslims monopolised the meat trade, was generally accepted until recently when Islamic intolerance made it unacceptable.

"In the history of this country from the colonial days and up to a few months ago, how and by whom livestock was slaughtered had never been an earthshaking issue. Apparently, non-Muslims – including especially Christians – didn't really mind one way or another.

"That was until May last year when a pastor was detained by the authorities in Singida, central Tanzania, for 'following Christianity rituals and norms including those on meals'. This was at a funeral of one follower of the Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) at Kalakala Village in Kiomboi District on May 6, 2012!

"According to a Web-posting on May 16, 2012 by Daniel Mwankemwa, PEFA Pastor James Moses was accused of slaughtering animals for consumption at the funeral without following Muslim 'halal' rituals. In the event, he was arrested and remanded at the Nduguti Police Post following a formal complaint by 'Sheikh Hamza Thabit, a Muslim village leader'.

"Not only had the pastor informed the mourners that the funeral and associated events would follow Christian norms and tenets; the man had also prepared fish for mourners who were averse to eating 'non-halal' food. Some Muslims who attended the funeral refused to partake of the meals, 'claiming that the meat was slaughtered against Islamic Sharia.'

"Enter 'Wassira & C'’ at centre stage a little more than six months later, seeking to 'impose' religions rituals on all Tanzanians regardless! Clearly, not only does this fly in the face of the country's free market economy and liberalised trade. It also cuts across the Constitution which proclaims freedoms and rights regarding religious preferences and practices."

Lyimo concludes by warning that it is imperative that Tanzania remain secular. "Anything less than this," writes Lyimo, "and Tanzania will sooner than later be plunged into a 24-carat religious conflict. Mark my words!"

In an 18 February editorial The Citizen asks: 'Where have we gone wrong and why? Could it be we have taken our peace too much for granted that we abandoned the need for constant reminders that we need to safeguard it most jealously?'

COMMITTEEE FORMED

After meeting with Muslim and Christian leaders in the Mwanza region on 16 February, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told reporters: "Traditionally Muslims have been [the ones who slaughtered animals] in this country, but we have this conflict and I have formed a committee of religious leaders to look for a permanent solution. Therefore, [while] the committee will be working hard to get a permanent solution, Muslims will continue to do this job for us all."

See: Tanzania forms interfaith committee to review slaughtering rules
By Deodatus Balile in Dar es Salaam, 19 February 2013

AND THE STING IN THE TAIL . . .

Writing from Dar es Salaam, Deodatus Balile (above) reports that Geita Acting Regional Police Commander Paul Kasabago has confirmed that three people have been arrested in connection to the events of 11 February. They are Pastor Isaya Rutta, who slaughtered animals on church grounds, and two members of Rutta's church. The three Christians will be charged with "breaking health laws, inciting the public and causing the death of [Pastor Mathayo Kachili].

"Police have not yet arrested anyone suspected of perpetrating the actual violence against [Kachili]."

This case must be watched very closely.

----------------------------------------

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
"Turn back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today"
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)

Friday, March 26, 2004

Zanzibar: Church attacked as Islamist zeal and anger rises.

Date: Friday 26 March 2004
Subj: Zanzibar: Church attacked as Islamist zeal and anger rises.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island territory of Tanzania. Zanzibar is almost exclusively Muslim with only very tiny Hindu and Christian minorities. The island is governed by secular political parties, and generally has been peaceful.

However, the presence of Wahhabi missionaries and jihad recruiters, combined with Muslim anger over the War on Terror and the tensions in the Middle East, has led to an increase in Islamist zeal amongst some younger Zanzibari Muslims. Moderate Zanzibari Muslim leaders, Tanzania officials and foreign diplomats have all expressed concerns about rising Islamist extremism in Zanzibar.

A series of six bomb blasts this month gives rise to fears that radicalised Muslim Zanzibari youths are rising up against Zanzibar's secular government, their moderate Muslim leaders, anything Western, and the Church. Police are worried that the Islamists might be backed by some disgruntled opposition and anti-Western politicians, and that there may also be links to foreign terror groups.

UAMSHO

On Friday 5 March, the Islamist group Jumuia ya Uamsho na Mihadhara (Revival and Propagation Organisation) held an illegal demonstration in the streets of Zanzibar. They were demonstrating against the government's ban on their demonstrations. The ban against the group (known simply as Uamsho) is in response to security concerns. In previous rallies and demonstrations, Uamsho has distributed Afghan jihad-training videos and literature, and advocated the killing of secular politicians who refuse to impose Sharia Law.

When Uamsho militants took to the streets after Friday prayers there was a confrontation with the police sent to enforce the ban. The militants threw stones at the riot police and burnt car tyres, forcing the police to fire tear gas canisters into the crowd to disperse the rioters. Several roads had to be closed and unconfirmed reports tell of scores of people being injured. Order was not restored until later that evening.

According to one correspondent, "The demonstrators carried placards reading Mbona Maaskofu hamuwakatazi?, (why don't you ban demonstrations organised by Christian bishops) and mnatuonea Waislam (You're harassing us Moslems?)." (Link 1)

Apart from expressing their grievances, the demonstrators were also protesting against the increasing Western influence on the island, coming primarily through tourism, and the government's appointment of Harith bin Khelef as Mufti. Not only was Khelef was not Uamsho's choice, but Uamsho objects to the principle that the government should appoint the Mufi. They believe the Mufti should be elected.

Thirty-two people were arrested for staging an illegal demonstration and the subsequent riot.

ANGER ESCALATES - CHURCH ATTACKED

Early on Wednesday 10 March, a Roman Catholic Church in central Zanzibar was set ablaze in an act of arson that has been described by police official Hamad Issa as "a deliberate act aimed at inciting religious hostilities in (Zanzibar) ... it's an act of religious intolerance". It has been reported that the arsonists broke into the church and ignited cloth sacks that had been soaked in gasoline. (Link 2)

One week later, on Wednesday 17 March, a petrol bomb destroyed a school bus belonging to the Catholic Church while it was parked in the school grounds. The following day five senior members of Uamsho were detained as suspects in the church attacks.

POLITICAL GRIEVENCE and ANTI-WESTERN SENTIMENT

On Friday evening 19 March, the home of Zanzibar's Mufti and top Islamic leader, Harith bin Khelef (who was appointed by the government), was attacked with explosives. Three suspects have been detained but no details have been released.

On Saturday evening 20 March, a grenade lobbed over the fence of the home of Zubeir Ali Maulid, a cabinet minister in the Zanzibar government.

Also on Saturday 20 March, a grenade was thrown into a restaurant filled with foreign guests. It landed on the dinner table of a British diplomat but fortunately it failed to go off. An American diplomat and about 25-30 foreigners were also dining there at the time. Bomb experts from the Tanzania People's Defence Force (TPDF) removed and dealt with the explosive that proved to be quite substantial and would certainly have resulted in fatalities.

A number of electric transformers were also bombed on the weekend and TPDF bomb experts defused yet another bomb placed inside a bar in Zanzibar's capital city, Stone Town (also known as Zanzibar Town).

There were no casualties in any of the attacks. Police suspect Uamsho to be responsible for the weekend explosions.

RADICALISATION

Chris Tomlinson, a reporter with Associated Press, reports from Pemba in the Zanzibar archipelago that "tabligh," or missionaries from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan, "go from mosque to mosque spouting sermons of hate -- sometimes scripted by radical groups in Saudi Arabia.

"After speaking at religious services, the "tabligh," or missionaries, begin recruiting young men, sometimes offering a chance to join Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida."

Tomilson quotes Ali Abdallah Amani, the Pemba representative of Zanzibar's top Muslim leader, as saying, "They do it in a very, very, very secret way, but they do it. Sometimes they are Arabs, sometimes they are people working for them. There are some [charitable] agencies that sometimes use a native of the village [to recruit] because the others would be caught by the police."

According to Tomilson, the tabligh teach, "There is an army of Muslims and they are fighting an army of non-Muslims who are trying to destroy Islam." This is a direct quote from one tabligh named Zahor Issa Omar. Omar is from the island of Pemba in the Zanzibar archipelago. Tomilson reports that Omar trained at a Wahhabi Islamic school in Raiwind, Pakistan, but "declined to discuss al-Qaida or whether he has been to Afghanistan or received military training. He said he now helps spread the fundamentalists' ideology in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, urging Muslims to become more devout and to join the struggle against non-Muslims."

Wahhabi "charities" allegedly pay the tabligh a high salary. A Western diplomat told Tomilson that Saudi institutions not only finance extremist tabligh, but also provide suggested texts for their sermons. (Link 4)

- Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Zanzibar erupts, 6 March 2004
By Correspondent Mwinyi Sadallah, Zanzibar
http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/guardian/2004/03/06/6643.html

2) 'Act of religious intolerance', 11 March 2004 - SA
http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_1496860,00.html

3) Zanzibar leaders attacked, 21 March 2004 - SA
http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_1501485,00.html

4) 'Missionaries' recruit fighters
By Chris Tomlinson
The Associated Press, 22 Feb 2004
http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Feb/02222004/nation_w/141222.asp

(if you are interested)
TANZANIA: Police probing protestors' link to opposition party
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
9 March 2004, Dar Es Salaam
http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=39925