Open places of worship, govt urged

Communal prayers in places of worship were suspended as part of government measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. Photo/ File

With merely hours to the presidential address on Covid-19 update following the end of the 42 days lockdown, government has been urged to open all places of worship for the faithful to worship their God during these challenging times of Covid-19 pandemic.

In a zoom session titled “Protecting Freedom of Worship: Reflections on closure of places of worship during Covid-19” last evening, five panellists calling themselves defenders of religion, reasoned that the closure of places of worship amounts to infringement of the citizens’ rights to worship which is provided for in the Constitution.

“Article 23 of the Constitution talks about the need about resisting anyone who violates the constitution. Let’s us help each other and recognise that what is going on is a violation of the right to religion,” Mr Simon Ssenyonga, a human rights lawyer based in Kampala said.

“Many people don’t have access to television sets or internet to have and follow church online since that is the only way church is being conducted. Those are the people we are talking about whose right to worship is being violated.” he added.

Likewise, Ms Anne Tendo, a Policy adviser, Crownel, said citizens in many countries have stood against violation of their right to worship before urging Ugandans to borrow a leaf.

“We have seen it in different countries where people rise and say enough is enough and rise up and say, we want our places of worship open”

She added: “Alternatively, they (worshipers) can decide to defy the directives barring them from accessing the places of worship and throng there in big numbers and we see whether police will arrest all of them.”

President Museveni early last month, announced new measures to curb down on the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus with the closure of places of worship being one of them.

To that effect, for close to two, all places of worship including churches and mosques have remained shut to avert the spread of the global virus.

Still during the same zoom session last night, Ms Lois Maclatchie from Alliance Defending Freedom in Austria, said Uganda is known to be a religious country and that banning prayers must be upsetting to them.

“Uganda is a country of faith, very many people are religious unlike the Western world and they should stand up and demand for their rights of worship. This is a gray area for people to stand up for their freedom of worship.” Ms Maclatchie said.

Mr Sean Nelson, Alliance Defending Freedom from USA, urged Ugandans to stand up and protect their freedom of worship, warning that once their right to worship is taken away, it will be very hard to have it back.