THE Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) has backed sheikhs' move to sensitize their followers to boycott the upcoming national census, in case the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) does not include a question on an individual's religion in its questionnaires.
In a statement issued on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam by Sheikh Mussa Yusufu Kundecha and signed by 30 other sheikhs, the leaders have insisted that the omission of the question on religion would lead to continuous use of the current data which are incorrect.
"We already have various data on the internet, which are widely quoted in references to the country's population versus their religious affiliations. These data are incorrect, it is better to come up with reliable ones," he said.
Sheikh Kundecha noted that the move by Muslim leaders comes after the government last Monday reaffirmed its decision not to include the component, after a consultative meeting with religious leaders in which Muslims emphasized their case.
"We had almost reached a consensus and the NBS bosses who were in the meeting agreed that they would take the matter for consideration, but the government through the Minister of State in the President's Office (Civil Society Relations and Coordination) Mr Stephen Wassira said the component would not be included," he said.
The NBS Executive Director, Dr Albina Chuwa was quoted as saying that the component of tribe and religion would not feature in the census, as the government does not use them when planning for development. However, Muslim leaders are blaming the NBS for allowing use of wrong data which are on the internet, showing the varying statistics of religious patterns in the country.
Dr Chuwa has, however, issued a statement saying that NBS does not recognize the available data related to statistics about Muslims, Christians and other religions.