SECTIONS OF the Muslim leadership, particularly the Tabliq sect, have dragged the Mufti of Uganda into their crusade against Muslim hotel proprietors whom they accuse of selling beer.
They have produced a long list of Muslim businessmen and women on whose premises beer is sold and consumed. The list reads like a who is who in the hotel industry.
It is understandable for these Muslim clergy to complain against the consumption of beer particularly on premises owned by Muslims. But in a multicultural, multi-religious yet secular state, the matter needs to be approached very carefully.
To begin with, for historical reasons, Muslims tend to dominate the business sector in Uganda. It would therefore neither be fair nor practical to lock them out of the hotel and restaurant industry.
Secondly, the clergyâ€™s role should be to discourage Muslims from drinking beer, regardless of who is selling it. In the modern business world, ownership of an enterprise can be so complex that a sheikh might unknowingly buy shares in a company, which has another subsidiary that runs a brewery.
Muslims should desist from owning bars, since the primary business of a bar is to sell alcohol. But hotelsâ€™ main business is accommodation and a proprietor should not be taken to task for catering for the beverage requirements of his clients.
But hotel and restaurant operators should ensure that alcohol is not served to youth below the age of 18, because these in law have no right to choose for themselves what they consume.