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Peace and Tolerance in Tanzania

JUWAQUTA Event in Coast Region

On 15th of June, members and leaders of JUWAQUTA convened for a workshop in Ikwiriri in Tanzania's southern Coast Region to get informed about religious tolerance and peace. Richard Shaba, Programme Coordinator of KAS Tanzania travelled to the Region to help facilitating the training.

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The Muslim/Christian relationship in Tanzania has always been in need of careful nurturing. In the recent past the traditional religious tolerance between the Muslim and Christian Communities has faced severe challenges. To support efforts by other non-state-actors KAS Tanzania established partnership with the Association of Teachers of Quran Tanzania (JUWAQUTA) way back in 2003.

Prior to partnering with JUWAQUTA, KAS Tanzania was already working with the Christian Professionals of Tanzania (CPT). In order to go to the next level, KAS Tanzania established a partnership with the Inter-religious Council for Peace Tanzania (IRCPT) in 2006. This relationship allowed KAS Tanzania to effectively mobilize the faith-based partners and participate fully in the Inter-faith Dialogue.

In order to promote religious tolerance KAS Tanzania empowers the respective partner FBOs as well as IRCPT. This two-prong approach has a net effect of creating synergies between the FBOs and IRCPT. The Coast Region is predominantly Muslim. JUWAQUTA needs to have a strong base in this area. Thus together with JUWAQUTA leadership it was deemed important and timely to host a workshop on “Peace and Tolerance in Tanzania” for Coast Region Leadership. The same took place at Ikwiriri.

The event was officially opened by Nurdin Babu, District Commissioner for Rufiji District. He was short and the point about each religious group having to exhibit great tolerance and respect for the other believers. He stressed that Tanzania belongs to all Tanzanians – regardless of which God they worship. The government shall always uphold freedom of worship. The Muslim community has to gradually accept that their approach to community issues might not be the best when compared to the way the Non-Muslims approach community issues. For example the Christian communities invest heavily in education, health and money-generating businesses (Conference centers, hotels, hostels, etc). Christian communities are very good at fund raising for their activities. It is sad to note that the same can not be said of the Muslim communities in general. A change in attitude is necessary and urgent.

In his welcome remarks, the JUWAQUTA Chairman highlighted the successes and challenges that JUWAQUTA has faced since its inception in April 1995. He beseeched JUWAQUTA members and leaders to be pro-active and embrace change now.

On behalf of KAS Tanzania, the Programme Coordinator, Richard Shaba informed the delegates that KAS has been working in Tanzania since 1964. Its three pillars are Civic Education, Inter-Faith Dialogue and Political work. He expleined that KAS achieves her objectives by partnering with respective local registered NGOs and that the foundations ‘currency’ is open communication and transparency.

The first presentation on the role and responsibilities of the Quran Teacher as per the Holy Quran and Sunna was presented by Sheikh Abbasy Khamis, JUWAQUTA Chairman for Coast Region and Kadhi for Coast Region.

The second paper was delivered by Richard Shaba, Programme Coordinator for KAS. He dwelt on the contributions of Quran Teachers to the community and pointed out social, political and economical aspects. Afterwards, Alhaji Sheikh Alhad Mussa Salum, Chairman of JUWAQUTA and Regional Sheikh for Dar es Salaam Region deliberated on the relationship between Muslims and Non-Muslims in accordance with the Holy Quran and Sunna.

In order to outline the way forward, Richard Shaba and Sheik Alhad led the members through an intense discussion and answered the many questions of the interested participants.

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