by Anadolu Agency
According to Sheikh Anubi Twaibu, education officer for the Direct Aid Africa Muslims Agency, an NGO, Zimbabwean Muslims continue to face occasional harassment during Ramadan – a trend that he says has increased each year.
“Ordinary Zimbabweans understand who we [Muslims] are and how we worship.
“The problem is with law enforcement agents who believe all Muslims are linked to terrorist groups like Somalia’s Al-Shabaab and Nigeria’s Boko Haram,” Twaibu told Anadolu Agency.
During the 30-day fasting month, he said, Muslims tended to be more visible, and therefore incidents of harassment tended to increase.
“This Ramadan, for example, we distributed food to poor families in remote areas,” he said.
“And each time we brought truckloads of goods, police would harass us.”
Police, he said, had demanded official permits and import certificates, “claiming our food distribution activities were being done to promote terrorism.”
In Darwendale, a farming community located some 60km west of Harare, the agency’s food distribution activities were halted last week because they lacked purchase receipts.
“But we resumed our activities after contacting their superiors in Harare,” Twaibu said.
Ibrahim Mpache, a Muslim in Mbare, Harare, told of similar incidents.
“I blame it [the police harassment]on the media, which fails to differentiate between terrorist groups and the religion of Islam,” Mpache told Anadolu Agency.
“While police harassment isn’t particularly widespread, Muslims from poor backgrounds are sometimes afraid to come forward to receive their donations,” he added.
Charity Charamba, Zimbabwe’s senior assistant police commissioner, could not be reached to comment on the issue.
Mpache, for his part, noting that Zimbabwean law guaranteed freedom of worship, said:
“Zimbabwe is neither a Christian nor Muslim nation; all religions are free to practice as they wish.”