Mozambique on the crossroads

There have been mixed reactions to what is happening in Northern Mozambique, ranging from shock and surprise, to elaborate dissertations about the motives behind the crisis.

Specialists in African affairs have been warning about Al Shabaab radical Islamic threat for several years.

A more simplistic interpretation of the situation establishes a link between the lack of support of the Maputo government to develop the Northern region’s economy and local population frustration expressed in the armed insurgency.

More elaborate views find an explanation for the widespread debacle of Mozambique government armed forces, before a rampant ISIS offensive, in a well-established terrorist network, supported from within the majority Islamic population.

The origins of the Nampula province tribulations come from distant times when the Mozambique coast religion and trading were controlled by Islam before the 16th-century Portuguese colonization.

The influence of the Islamic community in Mozambique increased when India invaded Goa, a development leading to the expulsion Hindu population, and the surfacing of the economic predominance of Pakistani origin Asian traders. 

The decolonization of Mozambique, not only led to the exodus of the white population but also the end of Catholicism being a religion protected by the state.

The activity of the Catholic missions came to an abrupt end  during Renamo civil war insurgency.

Churches and mission schools were abandoned .

Innumerable Catholic churches became abandoned ruins and Cathedrals in main cities went into a state of disrepair.

The demise of Portuguese trader’s presence, and the closing of Catholic mission schools in the more remote areas of the country, left a void in the education of youth, which was replaced by Islamic proselytism.

Concurrently, small and medium trade was taken over countrywide by entrepreneurs, who wanted to raise their children according to Islamic religious traditions.

A massive “re-Islamisation” of the country took place, with thousands of Muslim teachers and priests and their families being brought from the Gulf in the decades following Mozambique independence.

This new phase of Islamic expansion was completely uncontrolled by the Mozambique top Islamic religious authorities of the country nor by the state authorities.

According to the president of the Mozambican Islamic Association, the umbrella body of all Islamic organizations, Aminudin Muhammad , the proliferation of new mosques and priests in various areas of the North , coming from unknown countries and the contents of their preachings were, in most cases, not recognized by the formal traditional religious leaders.

The Aminudin concluded that this was the fertile ground for the seed of Islamic radicalism expansion.

The wave of what is devastating in the Northern regions of Mozambique will not stop at the Zambezi River and will infiltrate further South.

The key factor for peace and stability in Mozambique will be the Islamic community’s determination to root out the ISIS ideology.

The military solution alone will not prevent the crisis from deteriorating even further,f the problem is not sorted out by Mozambique Islamic population and traditional and moderate religious leaders themselves.

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