Among hosts Muslims, calls for amicable conflict resolution

The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has called on Muslims to use this year’s Ramadan to forge ways of settling their outstanding disputes, which she feared could adversely split them. 

“Ramadan this year came when divisions are threatening to tear the Muslim community further apart. As your Parliament we take great concern but encourage you to resolve outstanding issues amicably,” she said, adding “The Muslims of Uganda feel strong and secure when there is unity, because when united it becomes difficult for the external forces to weaken or break the community”.

Speaker Among made this call when she hosted the Muslim community to Iftar dinner, in a speech read by Hon. Minsa Kabanda, the Minister for Kampala Capital City Authority and Metropolitan Affairs, on  Friday, 22 March 2023. The event was held at Parliament.

The Speaker said she was opposed to the alleged targeted arrests and killing of Muslim clerics and urged the security forces to act judiciously.

“There have been complaints about targeted arrests and killing of Muslim leaders. We urge the relevant security organs to act professionally.  If there are suspected wrong elements, due process must be followed,” she said.

Minister Kabanda, on her part re-echoed the Muslims’ appreciation towards Parliament and the President for passing legislations that paved way for Islamic banking and finance in Uganda. She noted the need for platforms to educate citizens on the essence of Islamic banking.

“I thank Dr. Lujja Sulaiman [Head Islamic Banking at Islamic University In Uganda] for his efforts in ensuring that Islamic banking is understood and implemented. We shall need other engagements to learn more about Islamic Banking,” said Kabanda.

In 2023 Parliament passed the Financial Institutions (Amendment) Act 2023, Income Tax Amendment Act 2023, Value Added Tax Act 2023, Stamp Duty Amendment Act 2023 and Excise Duty 2023, which provided for the Islamic Banking and financing in Uganda.

Dr. Lujja on the other hand observed that despite the laws passed to operationalise Islamic Banking, Bank of Uganda (BoU) has licensed only one credit institution and has ignored applications from over 26 commercial banks.

“What we have as impediments to the implementation of Islamic Banking and finance in Uganda, is that BoU has licensed only one bank and that is a tier 3 credit institution, no commercial bank has been licensed,” Lujja said.

He noted that BoU’s refusal basing on lack of established Sharia Advisory Boards is not well guided and prayed for Parliament’s intervention.

“When we were amending the Financial Institutions Amendment Act 2016 we removed the Central Sharia Advisory Council from BoU and left the task to the Sharia Advisory Boards in commercial banks,” said Lujja.

He said that even the one bank licensed did not have a sharia advisory board at the time of licensing. 

“We request Parliament that we may have the tier one commercial banks licensed, they are ready with infrastructure to start Islamic banking,” said Lujja.