The majority of protesters are reported as UAMSHO followers. Mussa Juma, an imam and a UAMSHO leader was arrested by authorities from the mainland. UAMSHO (Kiswahili for revival) is an Islamic association advocating the separation of Zanzibar from the mainland of Tanganyika. In addition to resenting the union, some Islamist rally for the implementation of the Islamic law (Sharia), others have openly rallied against western influences.
There are a plethora of political and social reasons for the unrest. A government commission is currently traveling throughout Zanzibar engaging with the local populace on unity issues. Nevertheless, the much resented union is only one reason for discontent. Government corruption, stalled democratic processes and lack of transparency all create animosity towards both Zanzibar´s and the Union´s government.
The Zanzibaris do have legitimate grievances against the government, and it is unfortunate that hardliners use the discontent to create violent unrests. For more information on the complex issues underlying the current unrest, read earlier Blog entries.