CAIRO - Facing growing persecution, Uganda Muslim leaders have accused the government of targeting the religious minority with arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, torture and intimidation under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
The Uganda Muslim Youth Association (UMYA) is seriously concerned about these matters, UMYA national vice chairman Imam Iddih Kasozi told New Vision newspaper on Friday, April 5.
Speaking on a Friday news conference in Kampala, imam Kasozi asked the government to release Muslims who were recently arrested in terrorism related charges.
The leading Ugandan Muslim figure accused the government of arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, torture, harassment, intimidation and leveling tramped up charges against Muslim community.
He added that the government was using the police and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), under the guise of this big ghost' of terrorism to clamp down on Islam.
He also cited the recent closure of Islamic Madrassa's (schools) and threats to arrest Imam's of Mosques threatened with arrests for teaching Muslim children.
He also accused the government of launching a smear campaign against Muslims, labeling them terrorists' and security threat' to the African country.
The accusations, however, were denied by police department.
There is nothing like selective application of the law," Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said.
I may not comment on other issues but my concern is the madrasas.
In what state are they? Secondly, should we just free people just because they are Muslims but have committed crimes as individuals?
Government spokesperson and information minister Karoro Okurut could not be reached for comment.
The Muslim group urged the government to release the detained Muslims or present them to courts.
We demand that all those detained illegally should be released or produced in courts of law without delay, Kasozi said.
Meanwhile, the UMYA national vice chairman threatened to go out in mass protests to demand the release of detained Muslim youths who have not been charged with any crimes.
We are taking note of all those responsible for these actions and at an appropriate time we shall not hesitate to publically mobilize the Muslim community to come out in large numbers to demand for their rights and/ or take legal action against them in their individual capacities, he added.
Ugandan Muslims comprise some 14 percent of the predominantly Christian country's 32-million population, according to the CIA Factbook.