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Lephema spooks Muslims



MASERU – A Mafeteng-based Imam says Home Affairs Minister Lebona Lephema’s remarks about a mosque in Maseru West have shaken the Muslim community.

Lephema said the mosque in Maseru West was a national security risk because one can see the State House from its roof.

The minister appeared to question how the mosque was approved at such a height in the vicinity of the State House which is a security zone.

Jafar Pule, an Imam, told thepost that the Muslim community in Lesotho was so shocked at Lephema’s comments that they needed divine guidance to remain calm.

“We did not even eat,” the imam said, adding: “We were all shaken from our different areas.”

He said although the Muslim community is yet to issue a statement to respond to the minister, Muslims across the country are fasting about it.

Fasting is said to be a unique moral and spiritual characteristic of Islam during which worshippers abstain completely from food, drink, sex and smoking from the break of dawn till sunset.

Muslims fast to practise self-restraint, piety, and generosity.

Lephema made the remarks about the security threats posed by the mosque in Maseru West last week during a meeting with principal chiefs.

He criticised the past governments for issuing the mosque’s building permit.

“I am currently fighting a man who I don’t even know where he comes from, he is building a tall building next to the State House,” Lephema said, referring to the mosque.

“Those people work towards making their children Muslim slaves,” he said.

He also said the Muslim community must be stopped from loitering everywhere as Lesotho is a Christian country.

“We are not denying them the right to worship.”

He talked about the rife human trafficking in Lesotho due to the high unemployment rate, saying that the Muslim religion often takes the youth to fight in their hostile countries as terrorists.

Lephema’s remarks have attracted condemnation from the opposition.

The Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, condemned Lephema for saying Muslims must be stopped since Lesotho is a Christian country.

“It is wrong that a minister can talk like that about other religions,” Mofomobe said.

He said Lesotho has religious freedom stipulated in the constitution.

“No law says Christians will get rights more than Muslims, we are all equal on matters of religion,” he said.

Mofomobe said the minister must apologise to the Muslims because what he said is dangerous.

He said Lephema should remember that Metolong Dam was built with funds from the Arabs, whose religion is primarily Islam.

He also reminded Lephema that Turkey, a Muslim country, has expressed a desire to open its embassy in Lesotho, unlike other countries whose embassies are based in Pretoria.

He said Lephema is inviting unwanted trouble to Lesotho as it happened in Kenya where Al Shabaab Islamists are wreaking havoc after the government started attacking them at a time “when Al Shabab had nothing to do with them”.

“The terrorists then turned on Kenya and wreaked havoc, they killed many people in Kenya,” Mofomobe said.

He also reminded Lephema that his own Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) has Muslims in it, some of whom are MPs.

The NSS boss, Pheello Ralenkoane, promised to talk to thepost today.

Nkheli Liphoto

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