Don’t equate violent extremism with Islam, NGO warns

09Apr 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Don’t equate violent extremism with Islam, NGO warns

THE public has been called upon to shun the stereotype of assuming that all violent extremists are Muslims, as doing so plants seeds of hate within the offspring, a situation that can see youths who are morally upright turn bad and thus become more challenging to curb the vice.

West Urban Regional Police Commander Mkadam Khamis Mkadam hands a gift donated by Tigo cellphone service provider to Fuoni resident Fauzia Mohamed Hassan during commemoration of Karume Day at the Tigo offices in Zanzibar, on Thursday.

Search for Common Ground (SFCG) Country Director Spes Manirakiza sounded the warning in Dar es Salaam on Thursday while summing up a topic on violent extremism at a workshop conducted by her organization.

“It is important to know what role we ought to play to curb the vice. There are areas where all Muslims are termed as Al-Shaabab or Christians are branded in certain names.

We need to open more space for dialogue on violent extremism as things happen when people don’t talk about it. Prevention is better than cure,” said Manirakiza.

An expert on conflict resolution Salim Hamad raised concern over the mushrooming of uncoordinated and uninformed radical religious clerics as a recipe for disaster as some of them spent time preaching hate.

“The government needs to pay attention to these uncoordinated groups as failure to do so could lead to violent extremism in the country. The knowledgeable remain silent as some Muslim imams and evangelical churches clerics preach hate,” she said.

“There are places where Muslims insult Christians and vice versa. We need to tame the situation before it gets out of hand,” cautioned Hamad.

He said violent extremism may not be fully-fledged yet in the country, but there were some signs including some imitation of it, citing some as the emergence of various
groups such as Panya Road, Tukale Wapi and Uamsho.

According to Hamad, poverty and violent extremism were very much interconnected as someone who is poor was more likely to join such groups for a small pay simply because of desperation.

Other causes of people joining such groups, according to Hamad, were perception of injustice, marginalization and exclusion of certain groups.

For her part, Geline Fuko, a legal expert from the Legal and Human Rights Centre, mentioned one of the causes of violent extremism as ignoring the rights of marginalized people such as freedom of expression.

The organization is currently collaborating with USAID to implement a 30-month project titled ‘Promoting Healthy State-Citizen Relations in Africa,’ which aims to enhance civil society leaders’ capacity to influence government policy agendas.

It also seeks to shift the predominantly adversarial dynamic between government and civil society in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania to one where both groups can work collaboratively on key governance issues.

The week-long workshop brings together participants from Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, with each country sharing experiences and strategies to curb the vice.