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Photo via Anadolu Agency

 

The Muslim community in Uganda is struggling to cope with the aftermath of twin suicide bombings that ripped through the capital last month.

The period following the attacks has been characterized by brutal arrests, abductions and killings of terror suspects who are largely Muslims.

The arrests riled tensions within the Muslim community.

Muslim cleric Salim Bbosa told his congregation at Masjid Jamia that he stopped teaching darusu classes at the mosque to avoid being mistaken for brainwashing young Muslims. In the classes, Muslim clerics and imams teach Muslims the norms of Islam and how to grow in the faith.

“With too much pain, I have indefinitely suspended all the darusu classes that I have been conducting in all the mosques and over other media platforms till a time when God shall keep us alive,” he said in a video message. “My appeal to all Muslims is to be patient and calm in the face of the prevailing situation in the country, avoid criminal acts and criminals.”

Bbosa’s classes are popular and mainly focus on social issues. He is among the few leaders that have come out publicly to speak about his fears. Other clerics have done the same quietly in recent weeks, for fear that they could easily be misinterpreted as brainwashing sessions.

Muhammad Swidiq, the imam of masjid Musa, told Anadolu Agency that his mosque indefinitely suspended darusu out of fear. There are reports of several mosques in and around Kampala that stopped conducting regular sermons for similar reasons.

Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Secretary-General Ramadhan Mugalu told Anadolu Agency that if a Muslim or another person has been accused of any crime, that person should be subjected to due process of the law.

He said that cases of disappearances of clerics should be reported to the office of dawa, or the propagation and preaching of Islam.

In a petition to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Muslim Center for Justice (MCJL) and the Network for Public Interest Lawyers requested that the commission open an investigation, hear and make orders and issue a report on the alleged extrajudicial killings of Ugandans by security forces.

MCJL President Umar Nyanzi said the group wants the Commission to investigate the threat of Islamic terrorism.

He said Islam is a religion of peace and requested that security agencies stop linking Muslims to terrorists.

A motorcycle taxi driver was asked by Anadolu Agency why he suddenly stopped wearing his skullcap, which had become his identity. He said he and others fear being grabbed by security and drooped the skullcaps or anything that would expose religious identity.

- Reactions

Muhimbise George, a politician with the Alliance for National Transformation party, said it is unfortunate that Uganda has fallen to the scheme of demonizing Muslims as criminals and the Islamic faith is placed next to criminality.

“For the record, there have been many rebel outfits or groups that are led by Christians and they have never been tagged to Christianity. Alice Lakwena, a Christian armed rebel, led a violent Holy Spirit Movement, and her armed forces marched to Uganda’s capital Kampala, she was never called a Christian terrorist,” he said.

“One of the International Criminal Court’s most wanted, Joseph Kony and his cult-like Lord’s Resistance Army, took arms against the Uganda government. He claimed to be God’s spokesman, a spirit medium instructed by God to establish a theocratic state based on the Biblical 10 commandments. His atrocities stunned the world, he is accused of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in northern Uganda, to date, and he is never called a Christian terrorist,” he said.

George cited Joseph Kibwetere, a leader in the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a group that splintered from the Roman Catholic Church.

Kibwetere orchestrated one of the largest mass murders in modern history when more than 500 people were killed in Kanungu.

But Kanungu is not called a Christian terrorist, said George.

The killings are believed to be the second-largest cult murder after one that occurred in Guyana in 1978 when Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones instructed his members to commit "revolutionary suicide," by drinking poisoned punch. More than 900 people died, nearly one-third were children.

“There is a deliberate effort to blackmail Muslims as terrorists and unfortunately our leaders are either consciously or unconsciously falling for it. The danger it poses is that those that are stigmatized and harassed will feel a sense of insecurity and hence crave self-defense. In the end, they may turn into real terrorists as a response to the injustice and we may end up making terrorists in the name of fighting terrorism. We should stop the stigma against Muslims,” he added.

Imam Iddi Kasozi, a cleric and a lecturer at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), told Anadolu Agency that the government should stop mistaking anyone carrying an Arab or Muslim name for a genuine Muslim.

He made reference to the brother of the country’s president, Gen. Salim Saleh Akandwanaho, who proudly carries the Muslim name but everyone knows he has never accepted the Islamic faith.

Salim and others disguised themselves as Muslims during a guerilla war which brought the current regime to power in 1986.

- Government responds

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said security is not deliberately targeting Muslims in the ongoing war against terrorism.

Addressing the country on the security situation on national television, Museveni said all those arrested or killed recently were legitimate targets for getting involved in activities that are aimed at destabilizing the country.

The president’s response followed critics on social media who said security forces were now back to their properly choreographed script of arresting Muslims whenever there was a terror incident.

Muslims in Uganda are a minority with 13.7% by official count by the Uganda Population and Housing Census 2015. Other sources suggest the number may be as high as 30%. - Hamza Kyeyune, Anadolu Agency

RwandAir flight at Hamad International Airport. Photo Gulf Times

 

Hamad International Airport (HIA) has welcomed new direct flights from Rwanda to Qatar, facilitated by the codeshare agreement between Qatar Airways and RwandAir.

The agreement between both national carriers “offers global travellers greater choice, comfort, and connectivity” provided at HIA, which was recently recognised as the ‘Best Airport in the World 2021’, by the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.

Connecting more of Africa to the world, this newest addition allows passengers from Qatar’s airport to seamlessly travel to more than 25 destinations across Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Qatar Airways passengers can take advantage of the partnership and choose from three weekly flights on rwandair.com by using their Qatar Airways Qmiles.

HIA offers global travellers convenient connectivity through its strategic location, with 80% of the world’s population able to connect with the World’s Best Airport through six-hour flights. Additionally, HIA delivers a mosaic of cultural, retail, and hospitality offerings encompassed in a secure and efficient airport experience.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, HE Akbar al-Baker said, “Our relationship with Rwanda and RwandAir is a growing and enduring one, and we are deeply committed to the success of the airline, and to help bolster this new route from Kigali to our home Doha, and onwards.”

Al-Baker said, “As the world’s preferred gateway to Qatar and beyond, HIA has successfully continued to deliver safe operations to both global airlines and passengers alike. We welcome RwandAir as the latest addition to the airlines served at HIA; an illustrative accomplishment for the expansion of RwandAir’s routes, and the recovery of travel through Qatar’s airport.”

RwandAir Chief Executive Yvonne Mokolo said, “RwandAir is proud to partner with Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Qatar Airways, which will act as a catalyst to continue our recovery and demonstrates our commitment to enhance the travelling experience for our customers.

“It will provide greater connections through HIA to Qatar, and to destinations around the world on Qatar Airways, to dramatically boost the choice of routes for our customers from Kigali.”

The agreement is also born out of commitment to passenger well-being and safety. Earlier this year, RwandAir became the first airline in Africa to achieve the Diamond Standard of Safety Airline Passenger Experience Association’s (APEX) Health Safety Powered by SimpliFlying audit.

Focused on offering safety and comfort in its airport experience, HIA has also continually adapted to changing travel and health requirements and implemented innovative technologies to ensure a protected travel journey to its passengers.

These efforts led to Hamad International Airport’s rank as the Best Airport in the World at Skytrax’s 2021 World Airport Awards. Qatar’s airport was also chosen as the "Best Airport in the Middle East," "Best Airport 25 to 35 million Passengers", "Best Airport Staff in the Middle East," in Skytrax’s customer surveys, and was further recognised for its "COVID-19 Airport Excellence" during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. - Gulf Times

Huawei, a leading global ICT Solutions provider has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with University of Rwanda and Rwanda polytechnic to officially become Huawei ICT Academies in Rwanda.

The ceremony that took place this afternoon at Ubumwe Grande Hotel also flagged-off the 2021 edition of the Seeds for the Future training Program that will happen virtually.

The Huawei ICT Academy is a Huawei-authorized project for industry-academy cooperation. It aims to provide students the latest ICT technologies and knowledge, as well as to develop professionals that can meet the requirements of customers and partners from Huawei's industry chain. It is a non-commercial agreement between Huawei and universities, colleges that brings the latest professional certifications.

This partnership between Huawei, MINEDUC, MINICT and the universities of Rwanda is geared towards ICT talent development in Rwanda.

The ceremony was graced by the State Minister of Education Hon. Claudette Irere (Guest of Honor), the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation Mr. Iradukunda Yves, Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Mr. Wang Jiaxin and the Huawei Managing Director Yangshengwan.

PS of MINICT, Mr. Yves Iradukunda said that they are willing to work together with companies like Huawei that contribute towards the ICT development of the people of Rwanda. He also encouraged more institutions to join initiative like the Huawei ICT Academy that will quicken the teaching of new ICTs to the students in Rwanda.

The Hon. Claudette Irere noted a need to reform traditional teaching content in order for Rwanda to keep with the emerging cutting edge technologies in the world today such as 5G and A.I among others. She also expressed the need to have more certification programs to nurture the available ICT talent.

“As new technologies such as A.I, 5G rise, there is a general need to reform existing one and focus on the new so that we keep up with the times. This starts by reforming traditional teaching content to guarantee that it relates to industry practices. To meet this need our education sector needs to work with private sector such as Huawei to train, skill and jointly develop courses needed by the industry”, She said.

“I believe those will take part will make Rwanda proud as you interact, participate and share knowledge with other students,” she said.

The State Minister called upon the students to use the seeds for the future program to create networks that will further their ambitions in life and also added that she is honored to flag off the 2021 seeds for the future program.

The Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Wang Jiaxin said that he has witnessed Huawei Rwanda’s seeds for the future program since 2018 till today and he appreciates such initiatives Huawei Rwanda is doing for the people of Rwanda. He also stated that such initiatives from Chinese companies in Rwanda till this year also mark a milestone of the 50 years relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Rwanda. 

Huawei aims to establish more ICT Academies in Rwanda and with universities in order to skill more ICT talents of the country and contribute to the ICT talent pool. According to the Country Director Huawei Rwanda Mr. Toni Yangshengwan, the company looks to train and certify over 1000 students through Huawei’s various programs in the next two years.

“With the Huawei ICT academy in Rwanda, we aim to connect universities with industry to gain new insight into new technology trends, to open our doors for universities and students to access latest technologies and Huawei online learning resources and enhance student career competitiveness and employment rate among others. We shall train and certify more than 1000 Rwanda students and professionals in the coming years with our recognized ICT professional courses. So we request all universities in Rwanda to open doors for us,” he said.

The Huawei certification courses at associate, professional and expert level include; 5G, A.I, cloud, Wlan, Datacom and IOT among others.

The Seeds for the future program in Rwanda started in 2018 and over 15 Rwandan students have gone to Chine up to 2019. Since 2020, the program was moved online and since then the number of students tripled. This year’s online training program has attracted 30 students from majorly University of Rwanda, Rwanda Polytechnic and also a selection of students through MINICT from other institutions that are not yet Huawei ICT Academies.

This eight day virtual training consists of three hour pre-recorded courses and 13 hours of live stream in technology entry level and advanced sessions such as 5G, A.I and Cloud. The seeds for the future program shall cover hot topics of the tech industry such as cyber security and also give interactive visit sessions to the Huawei’s exhibition halls etc.

Mr. Tonni Yang Shengwan further encouraged the students to attend the virtual training fully for them to be able to graduate, acquire Huawei certification, goodies and internship opportunities. www.minict.gov.rw, ABC

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