Religion

40,323,000Population

241,550 Km2Area

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homekeyboard_arrow_rightUganda

Legal framework on freedom of religion and actual application

Article 29 (c) of the Ugandan constitution gives Ugandans the “freedom to practise any religion and manifest such practice, which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organisation in a manner consistent with this constitution”.[1]

The Religious Affairs Department of the Directorate for Ethics and Integrity (under the Office of the President) proposed a draft bill in mid-2017 that would expand the department’s vetting powers and allow it to regulate existing religious groups more broadly. The bill was aimed at the alleged lack of transparency of, and disharmony among, various faith-based groups.[2] It was also intended to stop corrupt and fraudulent practices carried out mainly by rogue clerics. Many “born-again” Churches claimed that the draft was an attack on freedom of worship, while other leaders and the Interreligious Council of Uganda welcomed the new legislation. At the time of writing, the bill had not yet passed into law.

In an unprecedented move, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) issued an order in April 2017 banning all kinds of street preaching, especially where the preacher uses loudspeakers.[3] Those guilty of an offence under the order are liable to a fine of 40,000 shillings (EUR€10, US$11), two months of imprisonment or both. Some Christian groups saw this decision as an attack against Christianity. Other observers noted that the KCCA had no authority to make such a move without the prior approval of Parliament.[4]

More recently, some Christian Churches have been embroiled in a controversy over how much their religious activities are contributing to sound pollution in urban centres, because of the use of powerful sound systems to broadcast preaching, songs and services.[5] This controversy may have been inspired by the actions of the Rwandan government, which closed down 700 churches in February 2017 because of the same problem.[6]

In March 2018, the governmental Uganda Communications Commission revoked the licences of 23 radio stations, accusing them of “promoting witchcraft”. It was stated that the radio stations used witch doctors and sorcerers to attract listeners. Some journalists demanded that the same kind of measure should be taken against stations which host fake pastors or fraudulent clergy.[7]

The main Christian and Muslim holy days are statutory holidays.

Incidents

On 29th June 2016 the Ugandan Christian University decided to ban all non-Anglican forms of worship on its campus.[8]

On 26th November 2016 Sheikh Mohammed Kiggundu (who was also a Major in the military) was gunned down along with his bodyguard in a Kampala suburb. At least a dozen Muslim leaders have been killed by unidentified perpetrators since 2012.[9]

Some of the killings of Muslim religious leaders seem to be related to internal struggles between rival Muslim factions. Police have linked the murders to rebel group Allied Democratic Forces in the east of the country.[10] Sometimes, ideological differences[11] and disputes about real estate appear to have provoked the killings.[12]

Towards the end of December 2016, following an investigation, anti-terrorism units raided the Nakasero mosque (the headquarters of the Tabliq group), confiscated materials and made some arrests. Days later, a similar raid took place on another mosque in Kiwatule (east Uganda) and further arrests were made. All those arrested were released after several days.[13]

On 19th January 2017 some born-again evangelists were beaten by a crowd that accused them of propagating a false prophecy during a three-day crusade in Karira Sub-County (Budaka District).[14]

Prospects for freedom of religion

In general, the situation seems to be a little more stable than during the previous reporting period, despite disputes within the Islamic community and murders of Muslim leaders. The situation of religious freedom in the country is not expected to change significantly in the foreseeable future.

 

Endnotes / Sources

[1] Uganda’s Constitution of 1995 with Amendments through 2005, constituteproject.org, https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Uganda_2005.pdf?lang=en, (accessed 16th April 2018).

[2] David Lumu, “Proposed legislation to regulate worship divides religious leaders”, The Observer, 29th June 2017, http://observer.ug/lifestyle/53046-proposed-legislation-to-regulate-worship-divides-religious-leaders.html, (accessed 11th April 2018); “IRCU hosts State minister for Ethics and Integrity”, Interreligious Council of Uganda www.ircu.or.ug, 20th April 2017,  https://ircu.or.ug/news/ircu-hosts-state-minister-for-ethics-and-integrity/, (accessed 11th April 2018).

[3] Martha Namugerwa, “KCCA Orders Street Preachers Off Kampala Streets”, Business Guide Africa, 21st April 2017, http://businessguideafrica.com/kcca-orders-street-preachers-off-kampala-streets/, (accessed 10th April 2018); “Banning street preachers an attack against Christianity – Buturo”, New Vision, 24th April 2017, https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1451863/banning-street-preachers-attack-christianity-buturo, (accessed 13th April 2018).

[4] “Banning street preachers an attack against Christianity – Buturo”, New Vision, 24th April 2017, https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1451863/banning-street-preachers-attack-christianity-buturo, (accessed 13th April 2018).

[5] Amos Ngwomoya, “Noisy churches: Battle for the soul pollutes towns”, Daily Monitor, 13th March 2018, http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/Noisy-churches-Battle-soul-pollutes-towns/688342-4338788-4sgkc3/index.html; “Urban authorities must rein in noisy churches”, Daily Monitor, 14th March 2018, http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Editorial/Urban-authorities-must-rein-noisy-churches/689360-4340392-u23egnz/index.html, (accessed 2 June 2018).

[6] “Rwanda closes ‘700 unsafe, noisy churches’”, BBC News, 28th February 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43225067, (accessed 13th April 2018).

[7] Serestino Tusingwire, “Government suspends licenses of 23 radio stations for promoting witchcraft”, Daily Monitor, 27th March 2018, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/UCC-suspends-licenses-23-radio-stations-promoting-witchcraft/688334-4360180-drcnph/index.html, (accessed 10th April 2018); Alex Nsubuga, “UCC should also suspend FM radio stations with pastors faking miracles”, Daily Monitor, 1st April 2018, http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/UCC-should-suspend-FM-radio-stations-pastors-faking-miracles/689364-4366506-a39ub1/index.html (accessed 13th April 2018).

[8] Vivian Agaba, “Students accuse UCU of religious discrimination”, New Vision, 29th June 2016, https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1428142/students-accuse-ucu-religious-discrimination, (accessed 10th April 2018).

[9] “Police link Maj. Kiggundu’s assassination to ADF rebels”, Daily Monitor, 26th November 2016, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Gunmen—kill–Sheik–Maj-Kiggundu/688334-3465564-p75oe4/index.html, (accessed 12th April 2018); Yasiin Mugerwa & Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, “Muslim clerics who have been killed”, Daily Monitor, 26th November 2016, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/688334-3465844-org7g0/index.html, (accessed 12th April 2018).

[10] See for example, Opio Sam Caleb, “One killed in Kamuli Mosque wrangle”, Daily Monitor, 21st October 2017, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/One-killed-in-Kamuli-Mosque-wrangle/688334-4149600-iqw4dk/index.html, (accessed 14th April 2018).

[11] Baker Batte Lule, “Mufti Mubajje dragged to court again”, The Observer, 16th February 2018, http://observer.ug/news/headlines/56943-mufti-mubajje-dragged-to-court-again.html, (accessed 12th April 2018); Shabibah Nakirigya & Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, “Tabliqs oppose new UMSC changes”, Daily Monitor, 23rd February 2018, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Tabliqs-oppose-new-UMSC-changes/688334-4315980-p0se9ez/index.html, (accessed 12th April 2018).

[12] Felix Ainebyoona & Alfred Tumushabe, “Army, police seal off mosque over Muslim wrangles in Bushenyi”, Daily Monitor, 22nd March 2018, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Army–police-seal-off-mosque-Muslim-wrangles-bushenyi/688334-4353094-157hwraz/index.html, (accessed 14th April 2018).

[13] Joseph Kato, “Police raid Nakasero Mosque, several arrested”, Daily Monitor, 27th December 2016, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Police-raid-Nakasero-Mosque-several-arrested/688334-3498950-9mwdpp/index.html, (accessed 12th April 2018); Joseph Kato & Stephen Kafeero, “More than 10 Muslims arrested in Kiwatule Mosque police operation”, Daily Monitor, 30th December 2016, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/12-Muslims–Kiwatule-Mosque–police–operation–/688334-3502132-rnvfpez/index.html, (accessed 12th April 2018).

[14] Mudangha Kolyangha, “Born-again Christians beaten over false prophecy”, Daily Monitor, 19th January 2017, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Born-again-Christians-beaten-over-false-prophecy/688334-3619590-c1295w/index.html, (accessed 14th April 2018). Other Christian sources claim that this information was not accurate since the attackers were Muslims angry at the evangelising activities of that crusade. See “Church leader in Eastern Uganda refutes news story on church attack”, Morning Star News, 16th February 2017, https://morningstarnews.org/2017/02/church-leader-eastern-uganda-refutes-news-story-church-attack/, (accessed 14th April 2018).

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