April 21, 2021

Opinion: Daily Monitor got it wrong

Photo Credit: Daily Monitor

By Kassim Kayira

I write to raise my concern and the seemingly deliberate ignorance of a leading daily newspaper over a matter that goes to the heart of Ugandan society, on a matter that’s deeply sensitive yet treated carelessly.
It begins with an eye catching and shouting headline – https://www.monitor.co.ug/…/688334-5587294-hwnckm/index.html taking the reader into a melee of quotes by imams and district leaders who will have been innocently interviewed without revealing the real motif at the heart of what’s meant to be an investigative story.

The story wastes all ink and space to actually lead to its intended conclusion – linking new high rise mosques to terrorism funding.

It’s very careless of Daily Monitor, to associate by deliberate error of inclusion and misrepresentation, of the minister for the presidency, hon Esther Mbayo over NGOs funding illegal activities and connecting that to Muslims and mosques.

It’s very carelessly ignorant of the NMG to not bother to even establish the position of a mosque in Islam which would help explain the sudden increase in mosques.

I’ll labour to educate you a little, if you’ll care to want to learn. A mosque holds a central position in Islam and in a muslim’s life to the extent that ‘ whoever builds a mosque on earth, God will build a house for them in paradise’ according to prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

As a result, any deserving Muslim, with some extra means, yearns to build a mosque. In the 60s and 70s when muslims had a lot of monies from trading on coffee and the magendo businesses, many would individually build mosques.

As they became less empowered especially with the advent of the ‘new economy‘, to which they had less access, the issue resorted to fundraising but within the community to continue this important and noble aspect of mosque construction.

Increasingly, there’s a big and growing Muslim diaspora, who, aware of the importance of the mosque, and with better economic means, have mobilized funds and sent the money back home to help in the construction of mosques. I can name many examples across the country.

That has contributed the bigger proportion of the new mosques. That doesn’t get reflected anywhere on the story.
Importantly, I wonder the choice of reporters assigned to this story – Bill Oketch, Patrick Ebong, Robert Muhereza & Mudangha Kolyangha, Alex Ashaba, Perez Rumanzi, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa & Malik F Jjingo.

While they may be good journalists, would a similar line up of Muslims on the NMG team be assigned to a church-sensitive story?

Why always try to link terrorism with Muslims? The loose manner in which the topic is introduced into the story with no clear connection clearly shows what the authors set out to do and I’m sure, the inclusion of the two Muslim reporters, was window dressing – I need to be proved wrong on the remit of their assignment on this story.

The absence of that important component of mosque funding only suggests one thing, the inadequacy of research on a topic, deliberately chosen to sensationalize a matter so serious presented trivially. Shame.

From the story, a very important issue is missed in a quotation plugged- the idea of the privacy NOT secrecy in contributing to the building of a mosque. In Islamic teachings, one of the best gifts, are those given anonymously to protect the good intention of the donor from the possibility of excessive praise that may take away the value of the donation as they get Carried away by the praises.

Please Nation Media Group, don’t take muslims for granted, on matters religious, like you worry about the politics, care to do some digging instead of presenting poorly researched, yet potentially detrimental aspects to stories.

The inclusion of so many statistics on new mosques building quoting sheikhs , becomes all lost, in a little conclusive line that deliberately chooses to link it to illegal funding and by extension, to the much adored terrorism framing.

Kassim Kayira, is a veteran journalist

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