Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Religious Toleration Should Be the Keyword, Please

THE religion-linked violence as it happened recently at Buseresere in Geita Region with catastrophic consequences deserves condemnation from all peace-loving Tanzanians.

It is gratifying to see that President Jakaya Kikwete has also expressed his concern on the violence that left two people dead and scores injured.

It is the kind of thing that shouldn't be allowed to happen in country. Except for a few isolated peace-disruption incidents that were immediately nipped in the bud, Tanzania has enjoyed relative peace all these years since independence in 1961.

In fact our country has become a role model or island of peace, national solidarity and general tranquility in a region and continent fraught with intermittent civil, military and tribal disorder. Tanzania is among a few countries in Africa, if not the whole world, where religious disharmony, racism and tribalism are very alien words and alien happenings - happening, unfortunately, in other countries.

This is one exemplary country in Africa, where more than 120 tribes peacefully exist. It is a country where tribalism is only one big joke and where inter-marriages are very much in good practice. Tanzanians have enjoyed religious harmony all these years and it is only very recently when they have, quite unfortunately, started to witness religion-linked violence incited by selfish and unreasonable individuals out to cause a breach of the peace to suit their warped personal interests.

It is for the reasons stated above that we side with the president in his concern over the sad events in Geita. According to the country's constitution, we are a secular state in which all citizens are free to subscribe to any religion of their choice provided they do not break the law.

What could be taboo in one religion's doctrine might not necessarily be so in another, which calls for the highest degree of religious toleration. Peaceful co-existence among different faiths is a matter of paramount importance that responsible state organs should oversee.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violent manner in Geita in which some misguided individuals decided to take the law into their hands by playing 'faith police' and causing a couple of horrific killings in the process. All those responsible for the heinous act must be pursued and made to bear the full wrath of the law upon arrest.

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