Find below two brief responses from Wanazuoni to Prof. Abdul Sheriff's Article on The Zanzibar Riots, the Union, & Religious Tolerance:
The dear Professor has completely missed the point...
It is the violence, the targets of that violence, and the religious justification of it that is shocking, not otherwise. No amount of spinning can restrict our minds from drawing parallels with what is happening in Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, etc. Boko Haram's apologists can also say that Boko Haram only started by peacefully questioning the corruption brought about by the Western education... But the rest, as they say, is history.
How about the Uamsho's grievances? Well, how about them? We all have grievances and concerns, but we don't go around burning churches and mosques, do we? A modern society has a way of addressing issues. This is what separates us from barbarians.
The commitment to human rights is crucial for the survival of a multi-cultural/multi-faith society. The principle of a 'secular state' is fundamental to the maintaining the rights of all members of such a society. Apparently, the dear Professor fails to appreciate the essence of these principles. That is why he entertains notions which, as a learned person, he should stand against. He writes: '97% of the people of Zanzibar are Muslims.. religion is not a Union matter, and that the Zanzibar constitution nowhere says ‘nchi hii haina dini.’' So, does this mean that Zanzibar's state is by default 'islamic'?! Is it the state which is religious or the people? Many people don't understand this very important distinction and completely miss the key lessons from history. No wonder people say that 'history teaches us that we learn nothing from history'...
I truly appreciate the Prof.'s contribution in this.
It is not to excuse and justify what happened in Zanzibar, but it is equally wrong to think that few Zanzibaris who took it to the streets and torching churches had no justifications of their own. The Prof. has pointed a few of those justifying factors including increased numbers of bars and brothels. For any one who has been to Zanzibar several times over the last two to three decades, it is obvious that socio-cultural situation of Zanzibar has changed immensely. Beer, marijuana, drugs, commercial sex, and the like are readily available. The Zanzibaris blame tourists for these changes. "Uamsho" are wrong in that they didn't separate the church from these "unaceptable" characters mushrooming in Zanzibar. To them, the people from the mainland who run the bars and tourist businesses bringing the unacceptable characters are church goers. So they attacked their bars, shops (last year) and now the churces to drive the msg home. To address the root causes of all these, one should not confine these clashes to a "religious dimension only" but include other associated factors. None of what was done by Uamsho is justifiable, but at the same, none of the suggestions given so far in a limited religious perspective is right as well.