Mozambique: Terrorism Nothing to Do With Religion, Say Moslem Leaders

A map showing the location of Palma in northern Mozambique.

Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday urged the country's moslem community to become involved in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and against terrorist violence in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

In a message marking Eid-Ul-Fitr, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Nyusi praised "the principles and values of Islam", such as pardon, tolerance, dialogue and solidarity, which, he believed, are clearly expressed among the Mozambican moslem community, making a major contribution to the consolidation of peace and unity, within the diversity of the country.

Nyusi encouraged moslems to continue to mobilise and participate in social, economic and cultural activities in support of social harmony, moral and civic education and the development of the country.

During the Eid celebrations, some prominent moslem leaders took the opportunity to reaffirm that terrorism in Cabo Delgado has nothing to do with religion. Speaking at a Maputo mosque, Sheikh Saide Habibo said acts of terror are perpetrated by people acting on their own account. He did not know whether they were motivated by a distorted version of religious faith, or were acting as instruments of unknown forces.

The fact that the terrorists use moslem phrases, such as "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great") did not mean that they were motivated by religion, said Habibo.

"There is no religion in the world which tells you to kill innocent people", he stressed. "However much a person may shout 'Allahu Akbar', even if he can recite the Koran, even if he prays five times a day, to what extent does he understand religion?"

"What is happening in Cabo Delgado has nothing to with Islam and its teachings", he declared. "We don't know if these people are driven by a distorted version of faith, a distorted practice of religion, an instrumentalisation of religion, or are being used by other forces that we don't know".

He lamented the impact on the international stage of the connections drawn between Islam and terrorism, and the double standards used when considering violence committed by Israelis and by Palestinians.

In the northern city of Nampula, Sheikh Abdul Magid, the local spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Mozambique, declared that terrorism is the enemy of religion and of development.

He advised moslems and other citizens not to be deceived by "false promises" of a good life and entrance into Paradise. Paradise could not be attained by killing other people, he stressed.

"The fight against terrorism is a task for everybody", said Majid, "because terrorists are the enemies of development, of religion and the growth of the nation".

Majid also encouraged the Mozambican defence and security forces, and urged them "to spare no effort in the fight against terrorism, so that peace may be re-established in Cabo Delgado".

"At this moment of celebration, let us not forget our fellow countrymen in Cabo Delgado who, because of this unjust war, have been forced to abandon their homes", said the Sheikh. "Our brothers need our support, so let us show solidarity with them".

The Nampula provincial governor, Manuel Rodrigues, joined the celebrations in this mosque, and praised "our moslem brothers for defending the noblest values of human life - peace, harmony, love, compassion and solidarity".

The governor expressed deep concern at the violence in Cabo Delgado "where religion is being used as the pretext for the destruction of property".

Ri/pf (567)

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