Uganda police blamed for failing to protect slain imam

Muslim leaders in Uganda have blamed police for not protecting Muslim imams.

Uganda police blamed for failing to protect slain imam

World Bulletin / News Desk

 Ugandan Muslim leaders on Wednesday voiced anger over the perceived failure of the police to protect Muslim imams following the murder one day earlier of Sheikh Hassan Kirya.

Kirya was gunned down on Tuesday night by unknown assailants, making him the fourth Muslim imam to be killed in Uganda since last December.

Addressing thousands of mourners who gathered at Kampala’s Kibuli Mosque, Sheikh Mahmood Kibaate, the acting supreme mufti, asserted: “We don’t fear dying because it [i.e., death] was meant for us all; but the way we are dying is what scares us.”

“We want to warn those killing our leaders: even if you do it ten times, when we retaliate, you will not enter the courts of law,” he added.

Sheikh Noor Muzaata, another Muslim imam who addressed the crowd, did not mince words.

“The end of Sheikh Kirya should not mean that we stop fighting those who are killing us,” he said.

Lashing out at both the government and police, Muzaata declared: “You say prevention is better than a cure, but nothing is being done to prevent these killings.”

He said Kirya had received death threats before his murder, but the police – who were told – did nothing about it.

 “We gave you all the information, including suspects’ names, but you did nothing,” Muzaata said, addressing police.

“We told you these murderers had a list of people they were targeting, but all we see from the list we gave you are dead bodies,” he added.

Following last December’s murders, Muslim imams provided police with a list of six people they believed would be targeted.

Since then, two of those named on the list have been killed, while a third survived an assassination attempt.

Second Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali, for his part, drew the ire of the already angry crowd when he said: “I know many sheikhs have been killed, but the government isn’t perfect. If you think the government is too weak and can’t manage, then vote them out during elections.”

In an effort to allay the crowd’s anger, Police Inspector-General Kale Kayihura – who has consistently blamed the murders on Al-Shabaab and the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group – stated: “I have listened to your cries and understand your anger, but I’m also tired of coming here because of deaths.”

Describing Kirya as a “freedom fighter” who opposed extremism, Kayihura added: “We are not perfect. I acknowledge there was laxity with his protection. His bodyguard left him when he was breaking his [Ramadan] fast – that shouldn’t have happened.”  

He went on, however, to blame the country’s judicial system for the failure to prosecute the culprits.

“Following the previous murders, we made several arrests,” he said. “But even if the person pleads guilty, the assumption that he is innocent until proven guilty by courts of law is an obstacle.”

Kayihura  went  on to tell mourners that, according to intelligence obtained by police, Kirya had been killed “because he was working with me, so we think those in jail could have done this by sponsoring the murder.”

He added: “We need leads to connect them to the crime scene.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Temmuz 2015, 17:27