Will anyone denounce this madness? The churches had nothing to do with this. It was a… pissing contest between two adolescent boys. And the boy’s mother offered to replace the book. But Muslims seem to be seizing any excuse to run amok, while the world stands by and discusses outlawing criticism of Islam.
Dar es Salaam. Violent clashes erupted in Dar es Salaam’s Mbagala suburb yesterday when scores of Muslim youth stormed a police station and demanded that a 14-year-old boy accused of urinating on the Quran be handed over to them.
In the aftermath of the confrontation, at least five churches were attacked, several car windows smashed and passersby injured as the angry mob moved from street to street at Mbagala Kizuiani protesting the desecration of the holy book.
Dar es Salaam Chief Sheikh Alhad Mussa Salum urged Muslims not to pursue the issue out of proportion, adding that there wasn’t ample grounds to mess up national security.
Is this kind of thing really ever “ample grounds to mess up national security”?
“The incident doesn’t need emotions in dealing with. Islam means peace; we can deal with such issues peacefully. This matter involved children. Islam considers age; it shouldn’t lead to a breach of peace in our country,” said Sheikh Salum.
He added that attacking churches would mean the boy was sent by Christians to desecrate the Quran, which he said he believed wasn’t the case.Police used teargas canisters and water cannons to quell the unrest and open up Kilwa road as the protesters hurled stones and burned tyres to block the road. Police were still engaging the demonstrators at Mbagala Zakhem late in the evening as the attacks on churches continued to rage.
A source told The Citizen on Saturday that the origins of the clashes could be traced back five days to an incident in which a Christian and Muslim boy got into an argument over the power of the Quran to turn anyone who defiled it into a snake.
According to those reports, the Christian boy swore he would not be harmed if he played with the Quran while his Muslim friend maintained that he would turn into a snake or run mad if did so.
The Christian boy then urinated on the book””and set off a chain of events that would turn the area into a battleground for what the Muslims described as a defence of their faith.
The protesting group initially arrested the boy at around 9am on Monday and took him to a police station. The incident turned deadly after the angry Muslims mobilised more support during Friday prayers, reportedly in an attempt to grab the boy from the police station and behead him.
Temeke Regional Police Commander David Misime described the situation on the ground as “not well” as the police were still engaging with protestors as at 7pm. “There was relative calm in the evening,” our reporter on the scene said late yesterday. “But I have just started hearing explosions on the Zakhem side now.”
Protesters attacked the Catholic Church at Mbagala Zakhem and broke down the door and an Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania was torched in the same area.
At Mbagala Kizuiani, reports which were later confirmed by ACP Misime further say, the Seventh Day Adventist, Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG), Moravian and Anglican Church and two other catholic churches were attacked and properties destroyed. During the fracas, which was made worse by vandalism, the windows of a vehicle belonging to Clouds Media Group were smashed.
Commuters had problems making their way into and out of Mbagala after the road was closed for several hours.
Mr Misime told The Citizen on Saturday that more churches would have been attacked had the police not taken action. He said 11 cars, including two belonging to police, were destroyed by the protesters.
According to some reports, the 14-year-old boy got into an argument with his Muslim friend when he told him that he would turn into a snake if he urinated on the holy book. The Christian boy apparently asked his friend to give him a Quran so he could test the claim.
As he started urinating on the holy book, a Muslim man arrived and asked the boys why they were doing so. The old man and other people took the Christian boy to his home, handed him to his mother and told her what he had done. “The mother responded that if that was the case, she would give them money to buy another Quran,” said our source. “That statement angered the group, which vowed to deal with the child.”
The group then took the boy to the chairman of Chamazi local government, where they secured a letter to take the boy to the police post for further questioning.
On Wednesday, the group arrived at the police station demanding that the boy be handed over to them but they were told he had been sent to another police station. “They continued to mobilise and agreed to storm the police station after Friday prayers, with the intention of finding the boy and beheading him.