Increase in attacks on Ugandan clerics

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SHAFAQNA - Muslim leaders have decried the increased rate of targeted murders and lack of conclusive investigations by police in last three years.

Over the course of six months, three Islamic clerics have been executed in the same style bringing the total number of murdered sheikhs to 12.

The Secretary General of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Al Hajji Muhammad Kisambira told the media after the slaying of Sheikh Hasan Kirya in Ramadan, that he was not satisfied with the Police’s efforts.

“The last time the Inspector General of Police Kale Kaihura came here he said it was members of the Allied Democratic Forces that are behind these killings, but we have not seen anyone linked to the ADF brought before Court,” he said.

“Even those they arrested are yet to be taken before a High Court for trial with sufficient evidence, only then shall we as Muslims know that the Police is working.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, this has left us as Muslims even more scared,” he told the media.

The police chief Kayihura told Muslims at the funeral of Sheikh Kirya that the suspects in the previous assassinations of sheikhs could have sponsored Kirya’s murder.

About 20 suspects were arrested and charged with terrorism, murder and crimes against humanity.

In a report in New Vision, Kayihura hinted that the suspects confessed being involved in the killings, but they are innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law.

He told the gathering that the late Sheikh was working with the police to bring into book criminals behind the killings.

“I am also a person and I am not here to make promises,” Kayihura was quoted during Sheikh Kirya’s funeral prayers.

“Kirya was killed because of me. He was killed for working with me and we have that intelligence.”

Kayihura said he had intelligence that he is also a target of Kirya’s killers.

Who is responsible?

A Muslim journalist based in Uganda, Ahmed Wetaka told Cii News that there’s no clear indications on who is behind the murders.

“It’s difficult to tell who is behind those murders because of various challenges around the Muslim community,” he said.

He said these challenges are a result of fractures within the Muslim leadership which has resulted in multiple factions.

“Overtime there has been accusations and counter accusations from members of either group. The differences result from leadership wrangles and management of property,” said Wetaka.

The late Sheikh Kirya was the spokesperson of Kibuli Muslim faction that was in loggerheads with the mainstream Muslim leadership based in Old Kampala over the dubious sale of Muslim properties.

The Kibuli faction refused to be led by Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje who they blamed for the sale of the properties and that it was deliberate smear attempt to cause hatred amongst Ugandans towards Muslims.

Haji Nsereko Mutumba, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council public relations officer, said that, “Following the murder of Sheikh Hassan Kirya, I witnessed certain Muslim clerics busy accusing and threatening fellow Muslims. By doing this, they were behaving exactly the way the killer wants them to do that is blaming each other and going after one another as the killing goes on.”

He said the killer has a motive of sparking internal conflict among Muslims in Uganda.

‘Blame the rebels’

The Ugandan authorities have however repeatedly blamed the murder of Muslim clerics on remnants of the Allied Democratic Front-ADF under the directives of their leader Sheikh Jamil Mukulu who is currently awaiting extradition from Tanzania for the murders.

Despite a document in the possession of Cii news, stating that

In a document in the possession of Cii News, the slain clerics Bahiga, Kirya, Sheikhs Yunus Kamoga and Abdul Karim Ssentamu were allegedly involved in rebellion against government were part of a rebel group based in Sudan, it is unclear the reasons cited in the documents are the real causes of the killings according to the list that has been doing rounds among the Muslim clerics in Uganda.

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