President Jakaya Kikwete has warned that all persons engaging in violation of the law, particularly those causing public fear, will face stern action.
He was referring to the violence in Mbagala, on the outskirt of Dar es Salaam on Friday where three churches were destroyed by an angry mob from the Muslim community following an incident where a 14-year old boy reportedly defiled the holy Quran.
“Muslims have the right and reason to be annoyed…” he acknowledged “… but wrecking and burning churches is unacceptable and does not solve, but worsens the problem…” asserted the president.
Kikwete cautioned the public to observe the rule of law and allow it to take its course. Just as important, he reminded Tanzanians to be more tolerant and considerate.
He reminded the nation that it is only detrimental to make decisions while clouded by anger and rage, in which case one’s judgement is compromised and choices flawed.
The president was addressing the public in Shinyanga at the climax of the Uhuru Torch race and the 13th anniversary of Mwalimu’s Nyerere’s death.
Visiting the vandalised churches on Saturday, President Kikwete called the acts disgraceful, saying it was unexpected of a nation famed for its peaceful and friendly culture, a country with a long history of religious tolerance.
Kikwete called on all religious leaders to preach tolerance, patience and understanding, to encourage their followers to respect and trust in the law and not promote mistrust, arrogance and absolute disregard of law.
Christian leaders were bid to exercise patience not to seek out revenge for there can be no winner in such warfare, only more chaos and the loss of lives, both of which are condemned by all religions.
Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) is one of the three churches the president visited. He was received by Bishop Magnus Muhiche who briefed him of the vandalism including theft of a generator.
President Kikwete who was accompanied by Home Affairs Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi was informed by the Dar es Salaam Zonal Police Commander Suleiman Kova that a total of 122 persons have been arrested in connection with the violence and vandalism.
The president also visited, Church of the Holy Trinity and the Anglican Church of Dar es Salaam where he was received by the Church Secretary Albert Mukasimongwa who among other things showed the president and his entourage the vandalised altar.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania was the last prayer house that the president visited where he was received by Reverend George Fupe who is also the Assistant to Dar es Salaam Dioceses Bishop. The scenario was the similar, more destruction, and manifestation of disregard for law or fellow human’s well being.
Meanwhile President Kikwete has called upon Tanzanians to honour the Father of the Nation Mwalimu Nyerere by implementing his good principles, thoughts and deeds in an effort to maintain peace and security in the country.
"Nyerere’s good will and commitment to build a strong Tanganyika and later Tanzania will remain...” asserted the president.
Kikwete said: “Our country has continued to be an isle of peace and stability in the continent. Mwalimu adopted and implemented a number of good policies that upheld humanitarian rights to all without discrimination…”
The president noted that the country is listed among the few in the continent which receive but do not generate refugees, this due to good governance set by the late father of the nation.