THE killing for the yet-to-be established motive of Reverend Evarist Mushi of the Zanzibar Parish of the Roman Catholic Church by unknown people in the Isles on Sunday, which came as a big shock to the nation, deserves the utmost condemnation.
It is a heinous crime for which state organs should spare no effort in tracking down and bring to book its perpetrators. Reverend Mushi was shot and killed while on his way to fulfil his spiritual and sacred duty to lead a Sunday mass. He met his ghastly fate in the service of the church, the faithful and most supreme, the Almighty God.
The country's Christian fraternity and members of other faiths must have been shocked by the news of the killing, coming as it did on a holy day and the faith's most prominent prayer day. This is time for restraint and self-examination by all faiths as security organs embark on a manhunt in search of the priest's killers.
As President Jakaya Kikwete said in his message of condolences in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the police force has been issued executive orders to relentlessly pursue the cleric's killers and make them feel the full brunt of the law. The search will go beyond the country's borders should security organs deem it necessary.
Whatever the motive behind the killing, we believe that it had been carried out by a group of a few criminals whose act threatens to seriously undermine efforts to achieve harmony among faiths, enjoyed since independence in 1961 and the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964.
Though a predominantly Muslim part of the United Republic, Zanzibar could be rightly described as the gateway to Christianity in East and Central Africa before spreading to the Mainland. The islands have enjoyed unprecedented peaceful religious coexistence and inter-faith harmony spanning over centuries.
Despite a few ugly incidents in which some hooligans have torched or thrown hand-made bombs at churches, it has been a period of religious bliss throughout. It is true that the killing will be interpreted in many ways in addition to bringing about a sense of insecurity among members of the Christian faith. This is understandable.
This is time to exercise patience and restraint. We believe that the security organs will do their job well. God has given and God has taken. His name should be revered - always.