6 August 2012

Tanzania: Woman Harassed in Zanzibar for Exposing Head

Zanzibar — POLICE in Zanzibar have launched an investigation after a woman claimed she was beaten up by a group of men at Mwanakwerekwe Market for leaving her head uncovered during Ramadhan.

The young woman, Ms Eva Andrew, an anti- HIV/AIDS activist working with an NGO here, was visiting the market to inspect the products sold by people supported by her organization, when she was stopped and harassed for not putting on veil.

Muslim women are supposed to cover their heads in public and the 'rule' is strictly observed during Holy month of Ramadhan.

"It was an incident of violation of human rights. I was saved by army officers who passed closer and helped me. Police officers did not assist at all," she said.

According to the woman, after the assault, the men issued threats and said: "You deserve punishment; you are abusing Islam because of walking without covering your head during Ramadhan." Police officers at Mwanakwerekwe confirmed that at around 9:30 am on July 29, the woman reported, and that they have launched an investigation.

Before the start of Ramadhan this year, Zanzibar leaders: President Ali Mohamed Shein, Minister for Tourism and Culture Mr Saidi Ali Mbarouk, and the Director for Tourism Commission, Mr Ali Halil Mirza, at different occasions, asked visitors and non-Muslims to respect Ramadhan by avoiding to eat in public and dress decently.

The leaders also appealed to Muslims not to be rude against non Muslims and visitors, urging maximum tolerance.

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