ZANZIBAR TOURISM STAKEHOLDER CONDEMN ACID ATTACK ON BRITISH TOURISTS
(Posted 09th August 2013)
An acid attack on the eve of the Eid holiday, which marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, against two young British tourists on the Zanzibari island of Unguja swiftly brought out condemnation from the Spice Island’s tourism community as well as from official government sources, as a manhunt was launched to find the criminals who sped away on a motorbike.
The two `18 year old young women, working as volunteers in one of the island’s schools, were flown to the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam to get better treatment as the acid splashed on their faces, arms and hands.
Radical Islamists have in recent years repeatedly tried to damage the generally good relationship between Christians and the majority Muslims on the island by storming, firebombing and destroying churches on the island before shooting a Catholic priest earlier this year. This situation, which then also spread to the mainland, was eventually brought under control by a determined security apparatus leaving nothing to chance when hunting down the inciters and perpetrators of such attacks.
Unfortunate statements by a small section of politicians that foreign tourists were subject to their religious law when eating or drinking during the fasting daylight hours of Ramadan, did also not go down well with the tourism fraternity, especially after some bars and restaurants were targeted last year and prior to that by radicals.
Tourism sources, on condition of anonymity, expressed their anger and frustration over this latest incident, saying in unison that such acts, this in fact being the first known direct attack on tourists, were extremely rare but yet impacted heavily on the island’s tourism industry. ‘Tourism is a big source of employment on Unguja. It is also the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. We hope the police can find the perpetrators and bring them to justice quickly. Such incidents give any destination a bad reputation and it is no different here in Zanzibar. The people here absolutely must be rated as a very friendly lot but a few rotten apples spoil the entire picture the world has of Zanzibar. It is time for community and religious leaders to come out in support of tourism after this incident and condemn such acts in no uncertain terms. These radicals may well remember that Islam is a religion of peace and not one which condones violence against the innocent’ wrote one source in an overnight mail.
Another source in Arusha also confirmed that following the incident making it into the global news channels, emails started coming in asking if it was safe for booked clients to go and visit Zanzibar after their safaris or if the arrangements needed cancelling in favour of Kenyan or other Indian Ocean islands beaches.
Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery to the two young ladies, whose selfless engagement to volunteer in a Zanzibari school was repaid with aggression and violence.