DAR ES SALAAM, 4 January 2021 – Judicial authorities in Tanzania have charged an Australian woman with blasphemy for her work providing assistance to women who renounce Islam.
Zara Kay, who was born in Tanzania and later naturalized Australian, was placed in custody at a Dar es Salaam police station on December 28 after she reported to the station as requested by authorities.
At the station, the Kay was allegedly questioned about why she left Islam.
The Australian human rights activist, herself, renounced Islam and now runs an organization she founded to help other women who do the same.
Faithless Hijabi, the organization she founded in 2018, is dedicated to helpoing women who chose to transition away from Islam.
The organization focused on helping women who have been ostracized from their families and community or who have suffered abuse for renouncing the Muslim faith.
Tanzanian authorities have charged for a social media posting she put in which she mocked Tanzania’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has also been charged for failing to hand over her Tanzanian passport after she became an Ausutralian citizen.
In a social media post, Kay said she believes she is also being charged for using a phone SIM card that is not registered in her name.
Organizations promoting religious freedom, including notably the Coalition of Ex-Muslims, have called for her immediate and unconditional release, and an end to any further judicial harassment.
The organizations have also urged the Australian government to intervene and help Kay return back home to Australia.
The Australian Departmenr of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed in a statement that it is providing “consular assistance” to an Australian passport holder in Tanzania.
Islam is the second leading religion after Christianity with estimates saying Muslims account for no less than 35 percent and no more than a little south of 50 percent of the population.
More than 99 percent of the population of Zanzibar archipelago is Muslim.
Although Islam scholars brag about the role of their religion in emancipating women over 1,400 years ago, “very few Muslim women can claim personal autonomy, guarantees in marital, personal or political matters; or recognition of their reproductive role” laments the Leiden University Reporsitory.
“Many Muslim women [in Tanzania] are becoming disillusioned with the popular rhetoric on rights few of them enjoy,” lamented the Leinden University study titled The Predicament of Muslim Women in Tanzania..