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DW (File photo) / Fishmongers in Mocímboa da Praia
Communities in the province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique are being mobilised against state institutions and for instituting a radical view of Islam, one of the region’s Muslim leaders has told Lusa.
“They forbid children going to official school and hospitals,” and urge residents “to carry no documentation”, Nassurulahe Dulá, leader of the Islamic Congress in the provincial capital says.
The presence of radicals has been the subject of warnings to the authorities for at least three years.
The radicals propagate a distorted view of religion, Dulá says, and were responsible for the armed attack on police stations in Mocímboa da Praia last week.
Two policemen, 14 attackers and a civilian died in the coastal village and its outskirts during the Thursday to Saturday clashes that led to the closure of all activities and the evacuation by helicopter of about two dozen professionals involved in exploration projects natural gas, , a source linked to the operation told Lusa.
“We have done a lot of work combating these groups,” Dulá says, warning people not to join them, but their enticements work, especially in areas of poor schooling and low income. Their recruitment has been discreet, he says.
Islamic organisations in Macomia, Mucojo, Pemba and Palma have also received warnings about strangers propagating radical Islamic doctrine.
Dulá recalls an episode in Pemba in 2016 where some of the alleged radicals were repatriated to Tanzania by Mozambican authorities for being in the country illegally, although they may have been from elsewhere initially.
In another case, a fostering agency was investigated for promising education and good treatment, but handing its charges, via Nampula, to a Koranic school for radicalisation, he says.
Police records in the region include arrests of people urging insurgency against state in a list of incidents which, according to Nassurulahe Dulá, culminated in last week’s attacks on police stations.
Like the authorities, Dulá believes that the attack could only have been possible with external support, given by the organisation of the force and the AK47 machine guns used.
“Most people [in the group] are Mozambican. I do not know who helps them abroad,” Dula said. that was for the authorities to discover, he said, with Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s most northerly province, having porous borders with Tanzania.
The connection to the neighbouring country is obvious in everyday life, while Maputo, the Mozambican capital, is about two thousand kilometres away.
Radicalisers keep out of the public eye, with no evident leader, the leader of the Islamic Congress reports.
“When we try to confront them with the Qur’an, they run away,” he says. They work “in secret, and are reluctant to confront people”. Their influence is revealed in other ways. “We know that they pray three times a day” instead of the traditional five, he offers as an example.
“They do not accept the government writ,” but only accept Islamic laws, which religious institutions in turn say they ignore and whose nature “contradicts what is in the Koran”.
Dulá gives voice to fears in the Islamic community in northern Mozambique whose image is being tarnished by a few insurgent recruits, fearing that “the situation could be radicalised” at a time when Frelimo and Renamo are approaching a new peace agreement in the country.
On the verge of a historical moment, disturbances such as these are not needed, he argues.Source: Lusa