Muslims in Uganda, like elsewhere in the world, are treated like aliens even by their own government and state institutions that are mandated to serve everyone with dignity irrespective of their faith and race.
The torture and rearrest of murder suspects is not new as far as state treatment of Muslims in Uganda is concerned. It’s not surprising that all murder suspects in the case of slain Andrew Felix Kaweesi are Muslims despite the current contradiction from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence arrests of some police officers also linked to the same murder.
These suspects were tortured and many have physically become handicapped as a result. Although court awarded compensation, the people responsible for these claims will probably never be brought to book just because the victims were Muslims.
Those who tortured the Kamwenge mayor are in court but not those who tortured Muslim suspects.
I have witnessed some of the arrests and I wonder whether those being arrested have any rights at all. Imagine the case of children and their mothers being kept in custody just because their parents were suspects yet Joseph Kony’s mother was happily being accommodated by the state that Kony was fighting.
Jamil Mukulu was arrested but any lawyer would have to think twice to represent him in court or else they would be linked to Allied Democratic Forces, more so if the lawyer is a Muslim, yet other rebel leaders are legally represented in courts of law.
Many murder suspects have gotten bail. What is so special with the Muslim murder suspects that, for them, bail is not right?
This is not the first and probably not the last time Muslims are being unfairly and unjustly treated in this country. We are told of the slaughter of Muslims in Nyamitanga, Mbarara, after the fall of Idi Amin’s regime.
The victims have never gotten justice and recently, for purely political reasons, financial compensation, and not justice, was promised.
Surely, are Muslims not citizens in their own country so as to deserve justice and accountability? Does financial compensation answer all the questions raised after the murder of Muslims and looting of their property?
In my home area of Lwengo, many families lost loved ones in the 1990s after being linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Many of these youths that were arrested have never been seen again by their families and it’s hard to know if they are dead or alive.
Like in other cases, the government and state institutions don’t mind since the victims were Muslims. Who will account for these youths?
The wrangles and disagreements among Muslims are state-fuelled; otherwise, what can explain the failure by two commissions instituted by government.
The government only sets up these commissions to deceive the Muslim community that they care only to turn around to support one faction against the other.
I don’t think rivalry and misunderstandings are only unique to Muslims and Islam. Why is it so hard for people who have the same beliefs to live in peace yet their faith stands for peace and coexistence? The answer is simple: the state fears and is uncomfortable dealing with a united community.
The murder of Muslim clerics remains a mystery. Nobody has ever been convicted for these crimes but state institutions are using them to further divide and segment the Muslim community.
Each sect is told that the killers belong to the rival group and each Muslim is a murder suspect only because they are Muslims or if they have an overgrown beard.
No rebel group has killed, raped and brought mass suffering to Ugandans like Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army but I have not heard Catholics in Uganda being labeled rebels or terrorists because Kony is Catholic.
Why then call or label random Muslims as ADF rebels or terrorists? At this rate, every Muslim or Muslim activity, even a school project, is viewed as potential activity of terror.
Muslims are underrepresented in any government body; and this is not an accident but a design by the state apparatus to keep Muslims backward.
The author is a lecturer at International University of East Africa.