By Godfey Olukya
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) - Muslims in Uganda from all segments of society protested Monday against the arbitrary arrests of Muslim leaders during raids on mosques.
Muslim clerics, parliamentarians, businessmen and community members collectively came out to condemn the arrests, which they say are illegal and uncalled for.
"It’s discriminatory for the government to always raid mosques and violently arrest sheikhs without following the law and detain them incommunicado without producing them in courts of law," said Asuman Basalirwa, chairman of the Parliamentary Muslim Forum and a member of parliament representing Bugiri municipality.
Muslim members of parliament (MPs) also protested against the disrespect of the sanctity of mosques by security agencies which enter the places of worship with their shoes on as they carry out arrests.
Among those arrested recently was the deputy leader of the Tabligh Muslim sect in Uganda, Sheikh Yahaya Mwanje, and more than 10 other Muslim worshippers. The Muslim MPs demand that Sheikh Yahaya be released unconditionally and that security agencies allow access to suspects by their families and lawyers or that they be produced in courts of law.
They further demand that other Muslims detained in prisons be produced in courts of law or the government and the security personnel responsible for these acts will be sued and there will be a nationwide mobilization of Muslims.
Katikamu South MP Hassan Kirumira said they will not sit back while their fellow Muslims are abducted illegally.
In a related development, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council held a press conference in the capital, Kampala, where council’s spokesman, Ashiraf Zziwa Muvawala, condemned the violent arrests.
“We are scared about the manner in which Muslim leaders are being arrested. Many Muslims are being arrested nowadays, and we are not aware why they are being arrested,” he said.
Hajj Abdul Munyokoli, a prominent businessman, said that some Muslim businessmen have been arrested, and up to now, they do not know where they are being held. He said they condemn such arrests.
In the past four weeks, more than 15 Muslims have been arrested in various parts of the country by security agencies. Police spokesman Fred Enanga said that some of those arrested have cases to answer for and will soon be taken to court.
Army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said they are holding Sheikh Yahya and will soon take him to court. He did not reveal what he will be charged with, however.