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The arrival of Islam in Zambia dates to the fourth Hijri century when Muslims established emirates on the coast of East Africa. During that period Muslim slave merchants extended their business to the interior regions reaching Zambia in the period of the Omani dynasty Al Bu Said. Arab slave traders entered Zambia from their trading bases on the coast of Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. Over a period of hundreds of years more than four million slaves were stolen from Zambia and surrounding countries and exported from Swahili ports by Arab traders to India and Arabia.[1]

In more recent times, some Muslims from Somalia and Kenya settled in Zambia.

Many Muslims entered Zambia during the colonial period, primarily came from the Indian subcontinent establishing themselves along the railways in the central part of the country from Livingstone to Lusaka.

Muslims account for less than 5% of the total population of 11.26 million. Although Zambia is officially a "Christian Nation" there is freedom of religion and Muslims generally are accepted in the society.



Martin Mubanga, a dual Zambian and British national was arrested in Zambia in 2002. Mubanga converted to Islam while in prison in Britain. After returning from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he was captured and held in Zambia, after which the local authorities placed him in the custody of the Americans. Accused of attending an Islamic madrassah in Pakistan. October 2000, he was taken to the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, where he was held until his release without charge three years later. [2]


On July 2, Zambian police in Lusaka raided an Islamic school and arrested an Indian man and a Congolese accomplice for unlawful confinement and child abuse. The 2 men arrested were holding 280 boys between the ages of 4 and 10 under harsh conditions. The children, who were recruited from poor areas of the country, were forced to study Arabic and Islam. Police reported that some of the boys had been held for 1 to 3 years. During the following week, police raided two similar Islamic schools in the Lusaka area.[3]


On July 20, 2005, Haroon Rashid Aswat was captured in Zambia. A militant linked to the London of the July 7th bombings that killed 52 people, Aswat had been on the run since 1999, when he allegedly tried to set up training camps for al-Qaeda in the US. On August 3, Zambia agreed to deport Aswat to the UK. [4]


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