Uganda: Iganga Muslims Fight Over Idd Day
The Monitor (Kampala)
16 October 2007
Posted to the web 15 October 2007
Last week’s Idd Day prayers and celebrations in Iganga District turned dramatic when rival Muslim sects disagreed on the day on which to mark the end of the fasting season.
The Sunni Muslims said they had sighted the moon which meant an end to the fasting and therefore went ahead to organise Idd prayers for Friday. However, the Shiite Muslims claimed the moon had not yet been sighted and wanted the celebrations to be postponed.
The founder and Chairman of the Mayuge-based Ahlul Bait Islamic Institute, Sheikh Daktur Muwaya, sent out several radio announcements, encouraging Shiite Muslims not to celebrate Idd until Saturday.
Following the announcements, Sunni Muslims, who were holding prayers at Budwege Mosque, were forced to end their celebration prematurely on Friday morning after a group of Shiite Muslims led by Sheikh Salim Kayere stormed the Mosque, forcing their colleagues to flee.
On Saturday morning, the police had to rush to the same mosque after members of the Sunni sect, who were armed with sticks and stones, stormed the area and forced members of the rival Shiite sect to abandon prayers in what appears to have been a revenge attack.
Members of the Sunni sect then locked up the mosque and left. Police were still deployed at the scene by Saturday evening.
However, while Muslims in Budwege were disagreeing over the day, matters turned political at Idudi Mosque, Bugweri County where political temperatures have started to rise in anticipation of a bye-election that could once again pit Deputy Premier and Minister of Information and National Guidance Kirunda Kivejinja against FDC’s Abdu Katuntu.
The Imam in Idudi, whose identity Daily Monitor could not easily establish, was forced off the pulpit amid accusations that he is a supporter of the opposition FDC while most of those in attendance had a leaning towards the NRM. However, matters were a bit different in Busembatia where Muslims, under the umbrella organisation Busembatia Joint Muslim Committee, used the day to bury the hatchet and build unity.
At the Freedom Square in Iganga where the main prayers were held, the District Kadhi, Sheikh Sinani Muwanika, warned his flock against taking out loans saying it is contrary to Islamic teaching. However, his call was met with laughter from the congregation, that comprised mostly businessmen who operate on loans.