Uganda police shut mosque after inter-Muslim tension

Armed police surrounded the mosque in Kampala and evacuated 14 people holed up inside

Uganda police shut mosque after inter-Muslim tension

World Bulletin/News Desk

Ugandan police on Tuesday closed a mosque in downtown Kampala after a group of Muslims loyal to a slain scholar attempted to seize control of it.

Witnesses say the tension began at dawn, when followers of Sheikh Mustapha Bahiga, who was gunned down Sunday night, entered Kampala's Noor Mosque.

The mosque is controlled by Sheikh Yunus Kamoga, who they blame for Bahiga's killing.

They remained inside the mosque until a group led by Sheikh Kamoga came to perform dawn prayers and found the mosque closed from inside.

The faithful began calling other Muslims, who surrounded the mosque and unsuccessfully tried to pull down its door.

Armed with teargas, guns and batons, police forces eventually surrounded the mosque, allowing only police negotiators into the place of worship.

An initial plan by police to use a small pick-up truck to evacuate the 14 people holed up inside the mosque was aborted due to fears they would be stoned or beaten by the angry crowd outside.

Nearly 30 minutes later, a pickup truck parked outside the mosque's entrance.

The 14 Bahiga loyalists were then brought out – some wearing Muslim women's dress or covered in black polythene – and were whisked into the truck.

Suleiman Ssemakula, one of the Mosque's leaders, urged the crowd to remain calm.

"We need to let police handle this matter. Please stay off the road," he shouted through a megaphone.

The Noor Mosque is one of 13 properties under the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council that was sold off by Mufti Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje in March 2005.

The move came despite a High Court order in 2004 blocking any sale or mortgage of Muslim properties without a unanimous resolution by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council's executive committee.

The Noor Mosque was sold off to businessman Hassan Basajabalaba, who then leased it to another businessman, Drake Lubega.

However, Muslims led by slain Sheikh Bahiga took over the mosque until early 2013, when Sheikh Kamoga took over the house of worship.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Aralık 2014, 14:56

Muhammed Öylek