A bitter power struggle threatens the unity of the local Muslim community, The New Times has learnt. The bickering has resulted in the dismissal and resignation of several top Islamic leaders in the country.
The New Times understands that some of those sacked include the Deputy Mufti, Musa Sindayigaya, and the vice Executive Secretary, Sulaiman Mbarushimana, who were fired over 'misconduct' and 'abuse of power.'
They were dismissed by the Supreme Council of Muslims, the highest decision-making organ of the local Islamic fraternity.
Others who were dismissed include the Imams of the downtown Kigali and Nyamirambo mosques, Sheikhs Ali Khajura and Issa Bizimana, respectively.
Other Imams that faced the knife are those of Kamembe, Rusizi and Rwamagana mosques.
The dismissals, which were confirmed by the Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Karim Gahutu, sparked off a string of resignations of other senior officials. Gahutu took over from Sheikh Swaleh Habimana last year.
Among those that allegedly threw in the towel, are heads of committees on youth and education, as well as finance and development, Almus Hakizimana and Hamid Bicahaga, respectively.
Other heads of committee that resigned include Dr Omar Khalfan (foreign affairs and protocol), head of the Islamic supreme justice council, Omar Uyakaremye and Yasin Habimana, who was in charge of Islamic preaching.
Speaking to The New Times, last week, Mufti Gahutu said squabbles had dragged on for a long time, prompting the decision. "The decision to dismiss some members was based on the fact that there were controversies and misunderstanding within the leadership."
The head of the Islamic judiciary, Omar Iyakaremye, was accused of trying to block the elections of imams at the provincial level, according to Gahutu. "Several times, decisions and procedures were violated and I always intervened to ensure mutual understanding," he said.
Contacted, Sindayigaya, the former deputy Mufti, said their dismissals were in bad faith.
"I am not going to fight to regain my post because I want these controversies to end. But my reputation was ruined. This is why I want a committee of inquiry to investigate these controversies and clear my name," said Sindayigaya.
Sources say the council has also reportedly dissolved the membership of the Islamic fund "for being reluctant to release money to renovate provincial and national offices of the Rwanda Muslim Association which were in a sorry state countrywide."
But some of the dismissed officials have reportedly refused to hand over offices.
The wrangles came to the limelight recently at the burial of Mzee Sheikh Omar Nzamwita, who allegedly died of heart attack.
At the burial, some members of the Islamic community assaulted the former vice Executive Secretary, Mbarushimana, accusing him of fuelling the wrangles.
Police arrested five people in connection with the violence.
According to the Police Spokesperson, Theos Badege, the dossiers of all the accused people were handed over to the prosecution.
Prosecution spokesman Alain Mukuralinda, told The New Times that two of those apprehended were released, pending more investigations, while three others were sent to court which granted them bail.