Some Dar es Salaam residents have reacted to the statement issued by religious leaders during Christmas mass sermons, saying the government should look for the causes of religious conflicts and address them promptly.
Speaking to The Guardian in separate interviews, some people it was government’s responsibility to ensure that people involved in acts which led to religious conflicts were dealt with accordingly.
A lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Paul Dotto, said the government should find out the causes of religious conflicts, such as the destruction of churches in different parts of the country.
“There must be a reason behind all these chaotic incidents…it is high time for the government to work on this matter before it gets out of hand," he said.
According to him the current religious conflicts in the country were a result of long-standing government inaction, reflected in not taking any action against people who insult other religions.
“There has been a tendency by some religious leaders to preach about the negatives of other religions, instead of preaching about their religious teachings, which promotes enmity among the people of various faiths in society,” he said.
He claimed that allowing faith-based educational institutions was one of the factors leading to religious conflicts in future.
For her part, Stella Leonard said the government alone cannot resolve the emerging religious conflicts. What was needed was to meet with religious leaders so that they can work together to find lasting solution to the problem.
Stella said the problem must be handled with utmost care as it seems to be influenced by people who don’t want to see the peace in the country prevail.
Another Dar es Salaam resident Khalfan Mohamed said what was happening in the country was not caused by religious differences, rather they revolved around issues of resources.
He said that Muslims and Christians have been collaborating in many spheres of lives.
“In our family there are relatives who are Muslims while others are Christians. We live peacefully and our religious differences are not an issue at all …I think what is happening today is more than religious conflict,” he said.
According to him the conflicts were being fueled by some people with an eye on the country’s resources.
Jumbe Mpalasinge, a resident of Tungi Kigamboni, said despite the fact that Tanzania was a secular state, he was concerned by what he claimed was a religious bias rather than competence in some appointments to positions made by government leaders.
On Tuesday during celebrations to mark the birth of Jesus, religious leaders urged the government to exercise zero-tolerance to people and institutions involved in activities meant to disrupt peace and harmony in the country.
The clerics cited the failure on the part of the government to timely stop hate speeches by religious leaders which led to burning of churches in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
They warned against the misconception that the country was being governed under a Christian system, stressing that Tanzanians needed to be told clearly that the country was a secular state, pointing out that the current top Union and Zanzibar government leaders were Muslims.