On Friday, President Jakaya Kikwete warned religious leaders to stop uttering provocative words, calling for tolerance among clerics in the country. The President was speaking in Arusha, when he led thousands of mourners from within and outside the country at the burial of Bishop Thomas Laizer (67) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania Northern and Central Diocese.
But as President Kikwete condemned religious based violence, yesterday Police in Dar es Salaam arrested about 90 Muslims who illegally demonstrated to protest the trial of Sheikh Issa Ponda.
The demonstrators were intercepted by the armed police before they arrived at the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions located at Sukari House building along Ohio Street.
According to Police reports, the demonstrators were planning to invade the DPP’s office to protest the latter’s decision to prosecute Sheikh Ponda.
President Kikwete said, “Let’s avoid using statements that would incite other people, as by doing so, we’ll end up causing chaos in the country. We should also put aside our political and religious differences and adhere to principles and foundations which were laid by the fathers of this nation,” the president said.
It’s obvious that Tanzania is rapidly descending into deep religious divisions and faith-based violence, a situation that would finally divide the nation between Muslims and Christians.
If there’s anybody who would deny that this country isn’t falling apart because of the so called men of God, then that person is insane. Just consider the debate on who has the right to slaughter animals in our abattoirs, which last week caused the death of a pastor in Geita region.
Today, as a nation, we have allowed this senseless debate to destroy our country. But as it destroys our united nation, government leaders are either taking sides in this mess because they too have their faiths, or have failed to be pro-active in curbing the situation.
The bitter truth is that we are in this mess because our leaders have allowed it to happen. In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, it would have been impossible to imagine that Tanzania would one day be caught up in the useless debate about who has the right to slaughter animals in our abattoirs.
But, today, a senior cabinet minister is spending taxpayers’ millions to mediate those fighting on the right to slaughter the animals. If we have been living peacefully for the past fifty years, why are some Christians suddenly raising this debate? What’s their motive anyway? Is this the best way to preach the gospel to all nations or just another way of destroying Tanzania?
The unity that we have as well as the peace that we enjoy didn’t rain from heaven, but was built and nurtured by those who believed that human beings deserve to live as brothers, friends and not like enemies. But, it seems that some of our religious leaders have taken the situation for granted.
Those who are involved in destroying this country under the umbrella of religion are neither men of God nor disciples of Jesus Christ, but are mere agents of the devil himself – but masquerading as saints.
Men of God don’t kill or incite people to kill each other. Men of God don’t preach violence, but always preach peace and love. To put things in perspective all those who are behind the latest debate about who has the right to slaughter animals are mere criminals or thugs.
That’s why we strongly say that those behind religious violence deserve more than warnings.