DAKAR: Senegalese prosecutors requested a six-month sentence Wednesday for an imam accused of insulting the country’s most powerful Muslim brotherhood, in a case that has underlined the group’s outsized influence.
The Mourides are one of four important Sufi brotherhoods followed by Senegal’s Muslims, who overwhelmingly practise a moderate version of Islam while following the teachings of local spiritual guides.
The case relates to a video posted in September by imam Cheikh Mbacke Sakho in which he accused Mouride elders of taking money from Muslims to further their own business interests, and of “swindling” followers.
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Now in “fear of his life”, according to a close friend contacted by AFP, Sakho could face a six-month suspended jail sentence and a fine of a million FCFA ($1,673) for abusing a religious group on a digital platform, prosecutors said.
They added this would be the minimum sentence possible “taking into account the apologies” the imam had already offered in another online video.
Sakho was not present at the hearing in Dakar for security reasons after threats of lynching by Mouride members.
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His case will be decided on October 26.
The Mourides are highly entrepreneurial and best known outside Senegal for selling trinkets and counterfeit goods on the streets of New York, Paris and Rome, where they have built up significant networks.
In Senegal they are highly influential in government and business. Former president Abdoulaye Wade is among the country’s most high-profile Mourides.
Many Senegalese looked to the brotherhood for leadership in the fight against French colonial authorities in the late 19th century.
The Mourides’ holy city of Touba, created by founder Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke in 1888, has grown to be Senegal’s second-largest after Dakar, with some 1.5 million inhabitants.
Senegal’s Sufi movements have no relation to the Muslim Brotherhood popular across the Middle East and Africa and currently considered a terror organisation in several nations.
Courtesy : Express Tribune