Mozambican authorities ordered closure of three mosques over alleged Islamist terrorism links

nsnbc : Following an attempted armed uprising by Islamists on October 5 – 6 in Mocimboa, the Mozambican government has ordered the closure of three mosques in the provincial capital Pemba over alleged ties to Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist terrorism.

Pemba,  capital of the province of Cabo Delgado. Courtesy DW (archives).

Pemba, capital of the province of Cabo Delgado. Courtesy DW (archives).

The order affects three mosques in the Pemba neighborhoods of Cariaco, Alto Gigone and Chiuba. Alvaro Goncalves, the Provincial Director of Justice, confirmed the closures, and said the decision is “irreversible”. He warned that the closures will be extended to other parts of Pemba, and to the districts of Chiure, Montepuez, Macomia, Nangade, Palma and Mocimboa da Praia itself.

Goncalves stressed that the government is acting in coordination with the main Muslim organisations in the country, including the Islamic Council of Mozambique and the Islamic Congress. He stressed that the closures don’t target Muslims or mosques in general and explained “This was a measure taken by the government and affects only those mosques which had some contact with the group of citizens involved in the Mocimboa da Praia events.”

The Provincial Director of Justice told the press that Sheik Nassarulahe Dula, the Cabo Delgado leader of the Islamic Council,  conformed that the mosques now closed had indeed furthered Islamic fundamentalism, stressing that this has nothing to do with the form of Islam followed by his organisation. Dula said:

“They forbid children from going to the official schools, or from going to hospital. … They were inciting the public not to possess official documents, and they were challenging the police authorities. These attitudes are not part of Islamic doctrine. We are not in favor of these abuses. … Mozambique is a state with institutions that function. … A religious sect cannot appear calling into question the functioning of the institutions in the name of God”.

On October 5, the islamist group attacked three police units in Mocimboa da Praia, and several days later a police vehicle on the road to the neighboring district of Palma was ambushed by people believed to be members of the same group. In the clashes five policemen and 16 islamists were killed. The attackers also murdered a local community leader.

According to Justice Minister Isaque Chande, speaking to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, earlier this month, 75 people were detained following the attacks.

F/AK – nsnbc 20.11.2017

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