“In his sermons he has been calling for violence and hatred… The last straw was last Friday when he called on his followers to kill soldiers.”
An imam? How did he so spectacularly misunderstand the Religion of Peace, which he had dedicated his life to understanding correctly? We can only hope that learned imams such as Pope Francis and H.R. McMaster are on their way to Sokode now to explain to him the correct understanding of Islam.
Violence broke out in Togo’s second city, Sokode, after the arrest of an imam close to the country’s main opposition, fuelling tensions after weeks of anti-government protests.
“Electricity was cut off at about 7:00pm after evening prayers,” said Ouro Akpo Tchagnaou, from the main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC).
“Five police vehicles arrived to arrest Alpha Alassane, a very well-known imam in the city,” he added. “The population felt targeted and took to the streets.”
Clashes lasted throughout the night until calm was restored but the authorities have been warned of renewed protests if Alassane is not freed on Tuesday morning.
“The situation was hard to put up with last night. The security forces and youths clashed in several parts of the city, with teargas and stone-throwing,” one local told AFP.
“There were burning tyres, barricades erected and buildings were looted,” added ANC spokesman Eric Dupuy.
“Homes were set on fire as well as a bank and premises belonging to (telephone company) TogoCell.”
“We know there were deaths and injuries but I can’t give you a toll at this time. We are still gathering details.”
Togo’s security minister, Col. Yark Damehame, told the local Radio Victoire that the arrest of Alassane, who is close to the Panafrican National Party (PNP), was justified.
“In his sermons he has been calling for violence and hatred… The last straw was last Friday when he called on his followers to kill soldiers,” he said….