ENTEBBE- President Museveni has once again promised to develop the Muslim Martyrs’ site at Namugongo and turn the facility into one of the major tourist attractions in the country.
The President who was speaking at the annual Iftar dinner at State House Entebbe on Tuesday night also offered to salvage the six-acre piece of land occupied by tenants.
“People who were killed in Namugongo were Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, they were killed because they had joined Christianity and Islam. We shall see how to work on that land, identify the names of the Muslims Martyrs and develop the site as we have done for the Catholics and Protestants.”
Explaining the delay, Mr Museveni who preached against sectarianism and declared that “all religious groups in Uganda have joined the ruling National Resistance Movement”, said the fact that Muslims do not have a Pope, nobody had promoted Muslim Martyrs but we are going to develop that place [into a tourist attraction].
Daily Monitor understands that the site’s land, which the Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Ramadan Shaban Mubajje said measures six acres, has been encroached upon by suspected land grabbers, leaving the site with less than an acre.
A humble mosque, Masjid Noor-Shuhada’e, was built on the site in the memory of unidentified Muslims coverts who were killed in 1875 on the orders of Ssekabaka Muteesa I, Ssekabaka Mwanga’s father for professing Islam. The six acres in question were donated by the late President Iddi Amin in memory of the Muslim heroes.
“Mr President, the issue of our land at Namugongo remains unresolved. The land has people yet we want to develop the site for our Martyrs. We also want to remember our Martyrs who died for religion and we want your support as you promised,” Sheikh Mubajje said.
Heroes not martyr
Although the Mufti used the word “martyrs” Sheikh Nsereko Mutumba, the spokesperson of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council in June 2017 when this issue first came up, he acknowledged that Kabaka Muteesa I killed Muslims because of their faith. But he explained that in Islam, such people can only be called “heroes” not martyrs.
Authorities at UMSC have a plan to expand the mosque at Namugongo where some of the Muslims were killed and develop the facility to international standard. Hajji Badru Kateregga of Kampala University is heading the committee.
At a sumptuous Iftar dinner, the Mufti asked Muslims to be guardians of peace, unity and tolerance and warned that mosques should not be used to bring chaos. He commended Mr Museveni for doing his “work very well” and listed President’s unfulfilled pledges to the Muslim community.
“We thank you Mr President for the support to Uganda Muslim Supreme Council but the Islamic call University College needs your support The National Council for Higher Education wants to withdraw our license because of lack of infrastructure,” Sheikh Mubajje said.
The Mufti also cited the renovation of the National Mosque at Old Kampala and the Muslim Martyrs project as some of the unfulfilled pledges.
The Mufti also asked the president to appoint qualified and deserving Muslims to government. In particular, he told the President that there are some statutory commissions without any Muslim representation. The president didn’t respond but took note of the concerns.