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Illustrative picture: Mosque in Maputo
The Islamic Council sees potentially tighter control of mosques in Maputo as discrimination and has issued a warning: If the community loses confidence in the authorities, Frelimo, the ruling party, may suffer the consequences at the polls.
The revealed intention of the Mozambican secret services to map mosques in the Mozambican capital is already provoking unrest within the Muslim community.
Sheikh Aminudin Mohamad, president of the Islamic Council of Mozambique and the Council of Religions in Mozambique, warns of the consequences of scrutiny without solid grounds.
“There may be discontent,” he says. “We are living in a democratic system and if the Muslim population is, in fact, to be targeted, it could lose much of its confidence in Frelimo, which could affect [the party] in the next elections. This could happen.”
“If Muslims begin to feel discriminated against, [in a situation] where some are treated as children and others as stepchildren, some are persecuted and others are tolerated, then this could create discontent, which is bad for democracy, where everything is based on voting,” he added.
The importance of equal treatment
The Mozambican state is secular. There are a number of religions, and their believers have lived in harmony for centuries. Could greater control of the activities of the Muslim community, in isolation, not light the fuse of religious or inter-religious tensions in the country, of which it has so far been free?
Hortêncio Lopes, a sociologist, answers: “We must always be careful. The fact that they target a particular religious community may raise some tension between this community and others, through them thinking that they are being discriminated against, or that there is some exclusion.”
Lopes notes that the Mozambican state has, so far, not intervened very much in religious matters, while not ceasing to supervise the churches. Meanwhile, it believes that, in this context, it must do so with other churches as well.
On the other hand, there is a belief that the government is under external pressure to exercise greater control over the Muslim community and mosques. Sheikh Aminudin Mohamad stresses that political consciousness in the country is now very high, with little tolerance for excuses of this kind.
“We know that it is ‘fashionable’ to persecute Muslims everywhere and label them as terrorists and other things. We therefore hope that our government will be more understanding and reflective on the subject and not fall into this trend, which many other countries are following blindly,” Sheikh Mohamad warns.
Settling of scores at the ballot boxes?
Mozambique holds general elections on October 15 of this year, and any action by the ruling party against powerful groups could result in a setback. Hortêncio Lopes understands that there have been failings in rallying a support base for greater scrutiny.
“This specific community, the Muslim community, which has given great support to the ruling party, may at some point turn its attentions to others parties, supporting them, as a form of retaliation because of what the government is intending to do,” he says. “I think there has been a lack of analysis of the motivations that lead the government to make this decision.”
But surely, Frelimo must be aware of the consequences of its actions, which seem to have started in quite a reserved way. Will the ruling party “tighten the noose” after the elections? Just wait and see.
In the meantime, we asked Sheikh Aminudin whether there is already any thought of boycotting Frelimo at the ballot box as early as October. “I don’t think Muslims will go as far as that, but we will talk to the authorities and do our part,” he says.
“We already plan to meet the authorities to talk about it, because a lot is happening, and they also may fall into the web without realising it. But, God willing, everything will improve, Mozambique is a land where everyone is very tolerant,” he concludes.Source: Deutsche Welle
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