Uganda's Mufti urges police not to shut down madrasas

Amid crackdown on religious schools, mufti calls on security agencies to target individuals, not institutions

Uganda's Mufti urges police not to shut down madrasas

World Bulletin / News Desk

Uganda’s Mufti, the highest Muslim religious authority, has urged government security agencies to target individuals – rather than institutions – amid an ongoing crackdown on madrasas (Islamic religious schools) suspected of promoting radical ideologies.

“When you have a jigger in your leg, you don’t amputate the whole leg, you just remove the jigger,” Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje said in exclusive statements to Anadolu Agency. “If there’s a person, teacher, head of a school or at a given mosque [promoting radical ideologies], you don’t close the mosque or the school.” 

He added: “I think that [the policy of closing madrasas] was misguided, but the police have so far rectified the situation.”

In March, Ugandan police raided five schools that teach Arabic, Quran and other Islam-related subjects based on allegations that they were indoctrinating young children with extremist beliefs.

Patrick Onyango, police spokesman for the Kampala region, told journalists at the time that a handful of schools – three in Uganda’s central region and two in the east – were teaching children “to become fighters for the Muslim-backed Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, which is opposed to the government.”

A UN report released in January on the ADF’s recruitment and funding activities stated: “The group’s external network… uses Muslim clerics to recruit families at mosques or Muslim schools.”

The mufti, for his part, could neither confirm nor deny the allegations, stating merely that “certain individuals may practice extremism, but, as a policy of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, we are for peace, reconciliation and unity.”

“But a few individuals are misguided,” he conceded, citing the ISIL militant group in the Middle East and North Africa, Somalia’s Al-Shabaab and Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

He went on to stress that true Islam was a “religion of peace.”

“You never know if there are some individuals that possess that [extremist] belief,” he told Anadolu Agency. “But if they are identified, they should be handled; and even before the security agencies handle him, we can handle him according to the teachings of the Holy Quran.”

Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga, meanwhile, defended the crackdown on schools suspected of promoting extremist thought.

“These people [Muslim extremists] were disguising their homes as Madrasa training centers and using questionable curricula,” he told Anadolu Agency. “This called for further investigations into the type of material they were using to teach these children.”

Enanga went on to assert that the only school that was closed in eastern Uganda “was where we recovered four guns from the school headmaster, who was involved in subversive activities after two of our officers were killed.”

“We have been keeping tabs on these schools since 2013,” the police spokesman added. “Thanks to our raids two years later, these cases have not been as widespread as before.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Haziran 2015, 12:00