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USA pushes for control of Islamic schools in Uganda

Ugandan children in an islamic school

Ugandan children in an islamic school

Since the devastating September 11, 2001, attacks, which claimed the lives of over 3,000 people and left many more injured, the United States of America has been committed to preventing such acts of terrorism within its borders and across the globe.

This commitment has taken various forms, including military interventions in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria. In Uganda, while the USA has supported President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government, militarily and in other ways, the fight against terrorism has extended to Islamic schools, commonly known as madrasas.

The US government, through its Department of State, equivalent to the ministry of foreign affairs, has actively engaged in reforming the madrasa syllabi. Their aim is to remove materials that promote extremism and advocate for government control and oversight of these schools.

A book titled, America and the Production of Islamic Truth in Uganda, authored by Dr Yahya Sseremba, a fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, sheds light on this focus of producing Islamic students aligned with American interests.

Sseremba argues that despite the USA enjoying a favorable relationship with President Museveni for nearly four decades, during which he has dutifully carried out their bidding, including fighting the war on terror in the region, the USA believes that institutionalizing their efforts is more sustainable than relying on a single individual.

He states, “While rulers like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda have solidified their power through personalized and clientelist networks, and while the United States has relied on such semi-authoritarian rulers to advance its security interests in Africa by enlisting them in the war on terror, the education reforms pursued by the US Department of State seek to institutionalize USA security interests in the African state, instead of simply relying on the unpredictable goodwill of African rulers.”

According to Sseremba, the US aims to civilize, modernize, and standardize Islamic education, subjecting it to direct state control and scrutiny from civil society. This approach mirrors the European civilizing mission, which was abandoned in the mid-twentieth century. Under the US State Department’s proposed arrangement, Muslims may retain their Islamic religion and education, but these would shift from the domain of Muslim authorities to the civil sphere, under direct state control and civil society supervision.

Currently, Islamic education in Uganda falls outside the purview of the ministry of Education and Sports, unlike secular education, and is instead managed by individual schools or associations, which determine the curriculum, structure, and duration of study.

This decentralized approach has raised concerns among both the US and Ugandan government officials, who have repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that these schools serve as radicalization centers. Just recently, the police, with assistance from other security organizations, raided the home of Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, the leader of Tabliq, and allegedly rescued children who were being radicalized. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga informed the media that parents had filed complaints regarding their children being taught Sharia with the aim of indoctrinating them into violent extremism.

In his 187-page book published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, a renowned international publisher, Sseremba examines various State Department documents that outline the American interest in state control over what is taught in Islamic schools.

He writes, “The US Madrasa reform package broadly includes the creation of a state-controlled authority that will preside over all Islamic and Quran Schools, homogenize and standardize the diverse madrasa curricula, and eliminate extremist content from the syllabus.

This means that the United States seeks to bypass or at least reduce the role of Muslim institutions and individuals and subject the process of Islamic truth-making to the central management of the Ugandan state.”

Sseremba skillfully challenges the underlying premises on which the American and Ugandan officials base their intervention in Islamic education. Holding a PhD in Social Studies from Makerere University, Sseremba argues that America lacks a nuanced understanding of the Muslim community in Uganda.

He contends that the notion that people become radicalized simply through exposure to Islamic texts, such as the Qur’an and the Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, disregards the political, social, and economic conditions in which this violence occurs.

Furthermore, he asserts that this argument reduces Muslims to unthinking beings who uncritically accept whatever they are told. Sseremba also highlights that Uganda’s history is marred by politically motivated armed violence, some of which has been driven by tribal or religious factors, but such conflicts have never been labeled as terrorism, unlike those led by Muslims.

This assumption, as stated by Sseremba, lacks factual support and logical reasoning. However, it has served as the driving force behind the raiding of mosques, schools, and individual Muslim homes, resulting in arrests, imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings under the pretext of combating violent extremism.

What is even more concerning is that most of the Christian Ugandan public, including the media, human rights defenders, and politicians, seem to believe that the state is justified in flagrantly violating the rights of Muslims.

There exists a widespread perception that Muslims are presumed guilty until proven innocent, contrary to the legal principle that ensures the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Sseremba observes, “The violence perpetrated by the state in Uganda and other East African countries appears to receive little public scrutiny when it targets Muslims, compared to when it is inflicted upon other segments of the population. The voices of civil society organizations, religious leaders, mass media commentators, and politicians, who often vehemently condemn state violations of citizens’ rights, remain largely silent when Islamic schools are raided and Muslim suspects are summarily executed. In fact, some voices have even emerged to justify extrajudicial killings of Muslim suspects and the unaccountable crackdown on madrasas.”

While the book is not yet available in Ugandan bookstores, it can be purchased on Amazon. Sseremba currently serves as a lecturer and research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research.

For any inquiries, please contact bakerbatte@gmail.com

Comments

+1 #1 Akot 2023-06-28 12:52
Uganda is +70% catholics, +10% protestants, but Museveni has filled Uganda with muslims from all over the world it'll be them who will finally throw him out, then Sudanese Idi Amin's time will be back!

Unless Ugandans say NO to the tribalistic system & UNITE to say NO to Rwandese Museveni, they will be them migrants refugees for good!

Muslims are filling EU/UK day & night, are making it clear they belong there & no one has a say in how they dress, live with public/social money!

EU/UK/Uganda MUST WAKE UP as control of their lands is slipping out of their hands day & night!
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-1 #2 kabayekka 2023-06-29 06:37
USA as a new colonial output seems determined to use its local currency world wide to govern planet earth.

It would have wished all the people of all the rest of this world to immigrate in the continent of the USA.

However, the United Nation should be able to explain to many of its members why it is not such a USA policy to work out such a new world order!

It is never a viable policy to force the world to use one single currency and one single human language and religion in the hope that there is one Single God in the vast heavens for all humans!
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+1 #3 kabayekka 2023-06-29 09:07
The USA wrongly seem to believe that it is the only country that believes in the living God.

That is why up to now the citizens of that country cerebrate such belief of their great great parents the religious Christian Pilgrims. Unfortunately the UN is well trapped under such ideology to be able to put the USA in its proper place.
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0 #4 Akot 2023-06-29 12:53
Quoting Akot:


Uganda is +70% catholics, +10% protestants, but Museveni has filled Uganda with muslims from all over the world it'll be them who will finally throw him out, then Sudanese Idi Amin's time will be back!

Unless Ugandans say NO to the tribalistic system & UNITE to say NO to Rwandese Museveni, they will be them migrants refugees for good!

Muslims are filling EU/UK day & night, are making it clear they belong there & no one has a say in how they dress, live with public/social money!

EU/UK/Uganda MUST WAKE UP as control of their lands is slipping out of their hands day & night!


Ugandans MUST UNITE NOW, to stop muslims replacing Museveni & muslims will come from all over muslim lands to own Uganda & take us back to Sudanese Idi Amin's era & Uganda will be declared islamic land again!
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0 #5 Akot 2023-06-29 13:05
[USA pushes for control of Islamic schools in Uganda]

Thanks.

This is especially so when muslims are powring in EU & social/public societies are upside down as muslims believe it's them, the only real humans! Muslims occupying silently developed countries are the only happy while locals, like Ugandans, are in turmoil fighting oneanother, instead of UNITING to stop their land becoming islamic properties!

All islamic/muslim lands are ensuring their people migrate to EU, Uganda to make these lands ISLAMIC LANDS, unless Ugandans, EU...wake up, NOW!

All social services in EU are suffocating with muslims who get help immediately, while non muslims MUST prove they deserve social help!

So Ugandans, will it be ADF/Islamic state replacing Museveni & what change will this be for you?
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0 #6 Akot 2023-06-29 13:14
Ugandans, which tribal land has many/majority muslims?

Ugandans, NO to the tribalistic system NOW, & UNITY will give you the power needed to end Museveni's rule or it will be ADF/Islamic replacing him & they will make Uganda, +70% catholics, +10% protestants an islamic land, just as Sudanese Idi Amin did!

Ugandans, please, NO to the tribalistic system & UNITY NOW, then you will form the kind of governance you want, even in dependent tribal states that will stop Museveni & muslims trying to own Uganda & make every tribe SLAVE, just as Sudanese Idi Amin did & Rwandese Museveni is doing!

Why will it be ADF/Islamics taking over from Rwandese Museveni, when Uganda belongs to Ugandans to whom tribal lands that form it belong?

Tribal leaders, please, stand down NOW then UNITY will stop Museveni, ADF/Ismalists owning Uganda & make Ugandans slaves for ever
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0 #7 Akot 2023-06-29 13:27
USA, I hope you see that EU & UK are up & down due to muslims flocking in to make these developed lands theirs too!

Ugandans don't see that muslim rulers are ensuring their people own businesses, health centers, schools...in Uganda....!

Which tribal land in Uganda is formed, composed of muslims & are helping them own Uganda?

Which tribe wants to be owned, controlled by muslims?

If ADF/muslims make their stand, Rwandese Museveni & family will fly out, just as Sudanese Idi Amin did, knowing their tribes weren't/aren't in danger, but Ugandans to whom tribal lands belong, are!

Ugandans, the tribalistic system down & UNITY means NO to any demon wanting to own your land & keep you slaves!

USA, thank you, time you help call Ugandans to UNITY & help them after they end Museveni's rule in UNITY!
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+1 #8 Babisekeramu James 2023-06-30 10:43
The United states is doing the RIGHT THING to push for control of Islamic schools in Uganda, and by extension in other parts of the world that depend on the United States in terms of development aid .

Left un-monitored, these Madrasas are a fertile breeding ground for moslem extremism!!

Whoever watched a video clip recently that went viral of ADF terrorists whom i call fools, on a killing spree in Kasese in western Uganda, would deeply appreciate this initiative by the US.

In Uganda , leaders are mentally asleep or have dementia to realise that the ultimate solution to terrorism is to remove or close all its breeding grounds.
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0 #9 Akot 2023-07-01 05:06
It's this leaders of Africa who call them self pan African it makes me cry when I see such people calling patriotic but there papets to West and hypocrites
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