Unrest and violence broke out in Dar es Salaam and the city of Zanzibar after the arrest of a top member of the Muslim community in connection to Friday’s attacks against churches, according to Father Vic Missiaen, Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops Conference.
“The peak of tension coincided with a rally of youths demanding the release of Sheik Ponda Issa Ponda”, said Fr. Missiaen.
Ponda, the Secretary of the Council of Muslims’ Organizations, was arrested this week on charges of inciting religious hatred.
“The Council is an extremist organization that doesn’t represent the large majority of the Muslim community”, stressed Fr. Missiaen. According to the Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission, the Council is linked to the Uamsho (Reawakening in Swahili) radical Islamic group, present mainly in the autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar.
The unrest last week was mainly concentrated in the Mbagala neighbourhood, among the poorest of Dar es Salaam, inhabited mainly by Muslims. Hundreds of people stormed an Anglican church, a Lutheran church and an Evangelical church after a clash among youths triggered an act against a copy of the Koran. A police intervention impeded the youths from reaching the Catholic church of the area.