Zanzibar Islamists Burn Churches

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ZANZIBAR CITY, ZANZIBAR (Worthy News)-- Hundreds of Muslims set fire to two churches during protests in Zanzibar last weekend in response to the arrest of senior members of their Islamist movement, police told Reuters.

Police arrested 30 members of Uamsho - a Swahili acronym for the Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation.

"We will continue to search for more leaders of the Uamsho group, which was responsible for inciting these riots," Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa said Sunday. One church was severely damaged, but the other was only partially burnt when police prevented the protesters from completely destroying it.

Police accused Uamsho of ordering its members to riot in the streets, but the movement's leadership denied it.

"The Uamsho association ... is not involved in any acts of breach of peace; we would like to urge all Muslims and Zanzibaris to continue to maintain peace and tranquillity in the country," the group said in a statement.

Uamsho has been gaining political popularity following voter disenchantment.

"We should never allow a few disgruntled people to plunge us into chaos over religion so as to achieve their own political goals," said opposition lawmaker Zitto Kabwe in a prepared statement.