Security minister Muruli Mukasa
?Several people have been arrested and some of them happen to be Muslims and even clerics. But the public should get this clarification very clearly. They have been arrested as individuals and not as Muslims,? said Muruli.
He added: ?The arrest is not aimed at Muslims. The arrest is aimed at individuals who are suspected to have an idea in the murder of Muslim leaders recently. It should not cause any fear at all. If those arrested are innocent, why do they fear? You can only fear for your arrest if you have a bearing and you think the long arm of the law is about to catch up with you.?
Muruli was addressing journalists at Media Centre in Kampala.
Eighteen people, most of them Muslim clerics of the Tabliq sect and their supporters have so far been arrested and charged in court in connection with terrorism and murders of Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga in Bwebajja, Wakiso district and Daktur Abdul Muwaya in Mayuge district.
The accused allegedly murdered the clerics to ?intimidate the public or a section of Muslim faith,? according to the prosecution.
According to sources, at least five other suspects linked to the murders are still in Police custody, reportedly at the Jinja Road Police Station.
The arrest has caused tension and panic within the Muslim community, notably among the Tabliq Muslims, whose prominent clerics have been charged in court.
Muruli said those who profess Islam faith should not panic that their religion is under threat, reiterating that they have freedom of worship.
?Once investigations are concluded, the court process will kick off. We have confidence in our courts and therefore those arrested will get justice,? said Muruli.
The 12 clerics who were charged on Thursday included the Tabliq leader (Amir Ummah), Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, who was arrested on Tuesday night together with five others, on his way home.
The non-Muslims charged the same day with Kamoga included Alex Okot, Joseph Olanyo and Charles Okidi. They were charged before Nakawa Grade One Magistrate, Timothy Lumonye.
Other suspects are Sheikh Murta Mudde, Hakim Kinene Muswaswa, Muzamilu Kasawuli and Arafat Serunjogi. Charged also in the same court were Amir Kinene, Aisha Nakasibante, Badru Bukenya and Sheikh Fahad Kalungi. The 12 accused were charged with murder, attempted murder, terrorism and crimes against humanity.
It is alleged that the accused murdered Sheikh Bahiga in Bwebajja and Sheikh Muwaya in Mayuge district. Prosecution further alleges that the accused attempted to kill Sheikh Haruna Jjemba.
Earlier on Monday, six suspects were charged at Nakawa Court in connection with the same murders. The six included Sheikh Yunus Kakande, Sheikh Sijaj Kawooya, Imam Abdusalaam Sekayanja, Rashid Jingo, Twaha Ssekito Sematimba and Abdulhamid Sematimba.
The Police have previously explained that the murders were linked to the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
ADF is said to have links with the Al-Shabaab terror outfit of Somalia, which carried out terror attacks in Kampala in July 2010.
Meanwhile, at the Friday press conference, Muruli said preparations were in high gear for the NRM victory celebrations to be conducted on Monday in Soroti at Boma Grounds starting 7:00pm.
Muruli said there has been misinformation that there will be a parallel function at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, on January 25.
He reiterated that there will be only one NRM victory celebration in Soroti, whose chief guest will be President Yoweri Museveni. The celebrations will mark 29 years since NRA led by President Museveni captured power in 1986.
By Alfred Wandera, The New Vision