Zanzibar Muslim Cleric Hate

Chaos in Dar, Zanzibar

18th October 2012

Islamic leader in police custody

The Secretary General of the Muslim Communities and Institutions in Tanzania, Sheikh Issa Ponda was yesterday placed under police custody in Dar es Salaam in connection with the violence in Mbagala last week as well as organising illegal demonstration that threatened the country’s peace and security.

Dar es Salaam Special Zone Commander, Suleiman Kova confirmed the arrest saying he was apprehended on Tuesday night at a venue that police suspect he was using as a hideout following what has been speculated as his attempt to elude arrest. According to the police, they ambushed him as a motorcycle dropped him off in the wee hours of the night.

Ponda is alleged to have been instigating violence by preaching hatred, rhetoric against the rule of law and authority and eventually culminating in the illegal demonstrations in Dar es Salaam that saw several churches vandalised and destroyed in response to a teenager’s ill behavior that led him to urinate on a copy of the Holy Quran.

Kova further explained that the Muslim Communities and Institutions in Tanzania led by Sheikh Ponda have not been legally registered as any formal or religious group, but it was the cause of much incitement.
Giving data on the extent of the damage caused by the demonstrators, he said that there was vandalism of more than eight churches, destruction of vehicles and theft of property. The Dar es Salaam Special Zone Commander went on to list activities he alleges were been conducted by the ‘community’ led by Sheikh Ponda.

“...he has been in the fore front fighting against security organs and interfering with judicial independence…” reported the commander adding: “… he even gave police a seven-day ultimatum to release all suspects arrested in connection with the vandalism of the said churches…”

Meanwhile followers of Sheikh Ponda yesterday marched to the Central Police demanding the release of their leader. They were adamant about the demand, threatening that they were ‘ready to die’ should their demands be blocked, which only prompted the police to tighten security.

“…we have been patient enough with Ponda and his followers…” asserted Kova “…enough is enough this is a legal issue, police will uphold the law and if investigations prove that Ponda has been involved in the chaos, he will be prosecuted…”

He ordered Ponda’s followers to vacate the police premises reminding them their threatening nature and refusal to heed the call to leave was contrary to the law.

In a related development, police are holding 38 people in connection to unlawful trespassing across a plot belonging to the Agritanza Company. Sheikh Ponda has again been implicated in the case. It is alleged that on October 12 of this year, he led his followers and trespassed the said plot claiming they were out to recover property sold by Muslims Council of Tanzania.

On Friday last week, a group of Islamic followers attacked eight churches in Mbagala after a 14 – year old boy reportedly defiled the Quran.

The chaos resulted in the arrest of some 122 people and after interrogation, 36 were brought before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday accused of conspiracy, theft and destruction of property worth more than a billion Tsh.