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Rebels Muslims seek own mufti

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th November 2008 03:00 AM

MUSLIMS opposed to Mufti Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje are planning to appoint their own Mufti. Headed by radical sheikhs Nuhu Muzaata and Abdul Hakkim Ssekimpi, both of them Tabliq leaders, the group held a ‘crisis’ meeting on Monday at Prince Kassim Nakibinge’s home in Kibuli in Kampala.

By Madinah Tebajjukira

MUSLIMS opposed to Mufti Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje are planning to appoint their own Mufti.

Headed by radical sheikhs Nuhu Muzaata and Abdul Hakkim Ssekimpi, both of them Tabliq leaders, the group held a ‘crisis’ meeting on Monday at Prince Kassim Nakibinge’s home in Kibuli in Kampala.

At the meeting,which lasted deep in the night, angry members resolved to carry out public awareness on the matter and nominate candidates for the office.

The move followed the acquittal of Mubajje on Monday by Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate Margaret Tibulya of charges of fraud. She said evidence was insufficient to convict Mubajje, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council vice-chairman Hassan Basajjabalaba and secretary general Edris Kasenene of
fraudulent disposal of Muslim property, forging documents and conspiracy to committee a crime.

She said the officials sold the property in their capacity as trustees and that the proceeds were used to run the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council affairs.
Tibulya said although Mubajje lied that the property had not been sold, fraud and deceit are different.
The ruling sparked protests from Mubajje’s critics who vowed to oust him.

“We want the stakeholders down at the grassroots to advise us on who is fit for the office,” Ssekimpi said yesterday. “Ugandan Muslims must have a Mufti who is respected and not Mubajje whom the court confirmed sold Muslim property he was supposed to take care of.”

The Mufti, he argued, must be honest and upright.

Ssekimpi said the new Mufti will appoint his district khadis and sheikhs. He said there would be no elections for the Mufti. “Islam forbids campaign because it promotes unlawful acts. We shall just appoint after thorough vetting,” Sheik Ismail Mugomba said.

Sheik Yahaya Lukwago said the candidates would be announced tomorrow. UMSC director for Sharia Sheik Rajab Kakooza, sources said, was nominated for the top office. The meeting asked Sheik Mustapha Bahiiga to persuade Kakooza to accept the job. Kakooza, however, said he was not ready for the position.

But Bahiiga denied the reports. “My assignment is to identify a suitable sheik to become the Mufti. The Muslims have no Mufti, and we must urgently get some trusted person to take care of our property.”

Other candidates considered at the meeting were Sheik Rashid Ssemuddu, Uganda’s ambassador to the Middle East, former vice rector at the Islamic University in Mbale, Anasi Kalisa, lecturer Dr. Badrudin Ssajjabi and Sheik Muhammadi Waiswa, the imam of Makerere University Business School. Kalisa said he was not interested in the job.

In a reaction, the Muslim council spokesman Hajji Nsereko Mutumba yesterday said the organisation was not bothered by the rebels’ plan provided they did not appoint a Mufti from mosques registered under the council.

Meanwhile, the Government has warned it will arrest people fomenting violence over the acquittal.

Briefing reporters at the Media Centre yesterday, ethics state minister Nsaba Buturo said: “There are elements that want to take advantage of the ruling to incite the rivalling camps into violence. Lawlessness will not be accepted.”
“Something is brewing. We should nip it in the bud before it blows up,” he added.

Buturo argued that hostility between the two Muslim camps was not justified.

“You cannot claim to believe in God, and destabilise others. We believe in orderly society.”
Buturo said he had invited representatives from the two factions for the briefing but they did not turn up. He said the best way forward was for the two sides to resolve the matter through dialogue.

He said anyone unhappy with the judgement should appeal.
“If you have lost in one court of law, do the same (appeal),” he advised. Asked whether arresting people in the anti-Mubajje group would not lead to more chaos, Buturo said it would not.

Rebels Muslims seek own mufti

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