Idi Amin to Rise from Meccan Grave?

Staying with Africa, an unwelcome blast from the past in Uganda. The Kampala Monitor (via AllAfrica) has the details:

MUSLIMS have asked government to consider a national prayer and a public holiday for the late former President, Idi Amin rather than bringing his remains.

I’d be in favour of a public holiday celebrating the demise of Africa’s most loathsome dictator ever, but apparently that’s not what they have in mind:

Through their umbrella body, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), they welcomed the government’s move but warned that it should be done in accordance with the Islamic norms.

“As the Muslim community in Uganda, we welcome the President’s decision of recognising Amin as a former head of state after a long period of public outcry. Let us hope that the era of calling him swine has ended,” UMSC Publicist, Hajji Nsereko Mutumba said yesterday.

I’m sure that pigs are also hoping for the same thing. Amin’s corpse is currently interred in Mecca, where the mass-murderer spent his twilight years. Current president Yoweri Museveni had agreed, just before Amin died, that his body could be brought back to Uganda, but to exhume it now would violate Islamic injunctions. Plus, as Amin’s son Taban notes:

“…Good Muslims believe that Saudi Arabia is a holy place and anyone who dies from there goes straight to heaven.”

Hmmm…Some older Ugandan reports archived here give some background to the UMSC’s current position. Here’s one, from just before Amin’s death

…Mufti [Shaban] Mubajje dismissed reports that the Muslim leadership was organising to bury the former president at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) headquarters at Old Kampala.

It was Amin who donated the Old Kampala land to Muslims during his reign (1971-1979).

(It should be recalled that Old Kampala was heavily Asian until 1972, when Amin had them all expelled)

…Imam Ssentongo said that…Amin is the most patriotic leader Uganda ever had, adding that the country might never produce his equal again.

Maybe Ssentongo could console himself with a trip to Zimbabwe…And here’s another, from the same day:

The chairman of the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly, Imam Kasozi, has said that former President Idi Amin did a lot to develop the Muslim community and the country.

He appealed to Muslims to ignore allegations against Amin and advised them to appreciate the fact that everybody had his weaknesses.

He said that before Amin took power in 1971, there were less than 100 Muslim university graduates but that situation quickly improved.

Amin’s death inspired further fond reminiscences:

[Opposition politician Hussein] Kyanjo…asked government officials to give “Muslims a break to mourn their dear one, Idi Amin,”

…Islamic cleric Haruna Sengooba asked the government to allow them to observe annual prayers on August 17 in remembrance of Amin’s death.

…’Show us the skulls’ We challenge those castigating him to show the world the skulls of those he killed, like we have been shown the skulls of those killed after him,” UMSC religious affairs secretary Mahad Kakooza said.

Meanwhile, Taban Amin is apparently in a bullish mood over his father:

Referring to the Presidential Emoluments Act, Taban said: “Government should also pay the outstanding salary arrears of President Amin as stipulated by the law”.

“You’re having a laugh”, as we say in the UK.

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