Religious Tolerance, Transnational Dynamics and the State in Tanzania

Lupa Ramadhani


The past decade 2004-2014 has seen increased, although not unprecedented, levels of religious intolerance and violent conflicts in Tanzania. Acts such as arson, acid attacks, killing of religious leaders and inter-religious contestations over who has the right to slaughter animals has called for a fresh re-examination of the role of the state as a mediator of social conflicts in the liberal era. This article argues that the change from a monolithic political culture to a liberalised political culture has led to a multiplication of political forces and actors in the country. At the same time, a mismatch in economic opportunities, accelerated poverty and the politicisation of the grievances have left Tanzania vulnerable to the forces of disunity and conflict. The state is not only an arbiter in a situation where various actors are competing for socio-political space but is itself highly contested. The article concludes that, although seemingly disparate and isolated, the incidents of religious conflict under review thrive on a situation where people question some of the traditions that have hitherto upheld the foundations of the nation.

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