Stop politicising religion’ .

  • JK urges wananchi to refrain from perpetrators of division

MARA : FORMER President Jakaya Kikwete has cautioned religious leaders against mixing religion with politics, saying it might lead to cracks in fraternity.

Emphasising the importance of maintaining a clear distinction between the two, Kikwete warned that disregarding the principle could lead to dire consequences to the national unity.

Dr Kikwete stressed that blending religion and politics could potentially jeopardise the harmony and cohesion among different groups within the nation.

“…It is dangerous to use religious lenses in national affairs,” Kikwete said, insisting that the intrusion of religion into politics can monopolise some specific ideologies, which in turn create a rift in the society including forming factions in the nation.

He urged citizens to reject any individual(s) or group(s) that attempt to merge religious beliefs with political agendas. He also challenged Tanzanians to desist from listening to those who use religion to divide them for their own political interests.

Dr Kikwete issued the warning when he was speaking at the launching of Adventist Church in Rorya, District, Mara Region on Sunday.

Kikwete specifically highlighted the danger of viewing national issues solely through a religious lens, stating that such perspective could be detrimental to the stability of the nation.

Equally, the former president used the platform to remind Tanzanians that the country recognises religious freedom as a principle and make efforts to protect, adding that such freedom of religion in Tanzania should and ought not to be abused.

“In our country, people are freely able to practice their religious beliefs, taking into account both government policies and societal attitudes toward religious groups.

“One of the most exciting aspects of Tanzania is that so many religions are present in this country, but that has never divided us and this is the country I’ve known since my childhood…and this status should remain the same, no one should divide us by any means,” insisted Mr Kikwete.

He added, “We need to maintain and strengthen our freedom of association with any religion with tolerance because this is one of the national values. We need to ensure that these values continue to be cherished. It is important we remain united as ever… our religion should not be source of conflict.”

“If we break these values we will pay a huge price. And if there are any leader(s) who wish to use religion for politician gain I ask you to ignore them, because if religious ideologies perpetuate deeper into our politics, they may turn into mass hysteria leading to the indoctrination of people.

“Intermixing religion with politics may promote favouritism in the community, which will curtail the national unity and breach peach and tranquility we are enjoying at the moment,” warned Dr Kikwete.

The former president used the example of Zanzibar in mid-2000 to illustrate the negative consequences of mixing religion and politics.

He pointed out how during his time in office, such mixture led to divisions within the community, as people began to identify religious leaders based on their political affiliations rather than their spiritual teachings.

“It reached a point where Muslims had to attend masjid for prayers based on the sheikhs’ political stance on CCM or CUF.  And during that time, there were politicians who used religion and this connection between religion and politics created serious divisions,” noted Mr Kikwete.

He recalled his address to the Parliament on 2005 Dec 30, where he promised that his leadership will do everything in his capacity to bring unity in Zanzibar and it was from the point that the Government of National Unity (GNU) was formulated.

“The first meeting was held in Butiama in Mara Region and it was one of the most difficult meetings for me as the Head of State. We were forced to take a break after a heated debate and we had to strategise during the lunch time and later we reached into consensus that we should have the GNU,” he recounted.

He said a large part of the problem of hate speech will go away if politicians stop mixing politics with religion.

Mr Kikwete also used the platform to hail the church for working closely with the government in improving social economic development in the country.

Last month, during the opening of the regional conference and training of the 4th International Association of Women Police (IAWP) in Dar es Salaam, Minister for Home Affairs, Eng Hamad Masauni also called on faith leaders to refrain from using their religious privileges and platforms for political purposes, saying doing so, was contrary to the law.

Eng Masauni said religious leaders should not entertain politics in religious affairs, for-the outcome is creating division among their congregants and attempting to create unnecessary tension in the country.

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