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Uamsho (The Awakening, Full name: The Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation) is an Islamist separatist group in Zanzibar. Led by Farid Hadi Ahmed, Uamsho seeks independence for Zanzibar from Tanzania, and advocates policies such as restrictions on alcohol consumption and implementing a conservative dress code for foreign tourists visiting the island.[1]

History and formation[edit]

Uamsho was officially registered as JUMIKI (Jumuiya ya Uamsho na mihadhara ya kiislam in Swahili language) in 2001 with the Registration no.149 under the Zanzibar government Society Act Number 6 of 1995 concerning the registration of civil society organization (Non Governmental Organisation)[2] But the name Uamsho has become more popular than its original name. Uamsho's constitution declares its aim of returning Zanzibar to being a center of Islamic learning, applying Islamic law, and that Zanzibar has full autonomy rather than remain under the umbrella of the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

Formation and leadership[edit]

The group is formed by the following leadership

  1. Amir; Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed
  2. Deputy Amir Sheikh Azzan Khalid Hamdan
  3. General Secretary Sheikh Abdallah Said Madawa
  4. Deputy General Secretary
  5. Treasurer
  6. Members

Riots, incitement to murder and general criticism[edit]

Uamsho has been criticized for failing to stick to its purpose as registered and instead has turned into a political group questioning Zanzibar's place in Tanzania.[3] Uamsho has been accused of no longer being a purely religious movement, but has been manipulated to fulfil political ambitions. Uamsho has called for a referendum on Zanzibar's exit from the United Republic of Tanzania.

In April 2012 the governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar intervened and stopped all meetings, demonstrations, gatherings or lectures until further notice. The group continued to conduct lectures claiming to be exercising it's freedom of speech. Several clashes between Uamsho members and the field force unit have been reported including the burning of churches in the Zanzibar island of Unguja.[4]

On 25 December 2012 the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda was injured as he arrived home in Tomondo, about four miles from Zanzibar City.[5] The incident was linked to UAMSHO but no evidence has been found so far.

Among the people who have criticized the movement was Zanzibar President Dr. Shein and the Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda. Pinda expressed concern over the activities of Uamsho. Mr Pinda told the National Assembly that the organisation was legally registered as a non-governmental organization in Zanzibar and at the beginning operated well. "Unfortunately the NGO has of late lost direction and is propagating hatred among the people in Zanzibar. Authorities in Zanzibar are dealing with all trouble makers"[3]

On 16 October 2012, Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmad was reported missing, and returned home after four days. He claimed to have been abducted by armed and masked men who identified themselves as police officers. The then Commissioner of Zanzibar Police, Mr Mussa Ali categorically dismissed the claims, saying that police had no idea of the whereabouts of Sheikh Farid. The disappearance caused unrest in Stone Town, paralyzing traffic and business as the missing cleric's supporters rioted. Two people including a police officer were killed and several others were injured.[6]

Seven leaders of the Uamsho, including Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed, were arrested on 20 October 2012 and appeared before Mwanakwerekwe District Court in Zanzibar where they were charged with several counts including incitement, causing chaos, and breach of peace and misunderstandings in the Isles. Defence lawyers - Salim Tawfik and Abdallah Juma - boycotted a court session and withdrew from representing Uamsho, accusing the police and prosecuting officers of acting under unnecessary secrecy.[7]

Analysts have said that Uamsho has been gaining popularity following the disenchantment of supporters of Zanzibar's main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) Party after its decision to form a government of national unity with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party.[8]

See also[edit]