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Senegal plunged into mourning after death of religious leader

Senegal plunged into mourning after death of religious leader

Senegal entered a three-day period of mourning Saturday following the death of the country's spiritual leader.
Serigne Saliou Mbacke, who died Friday aged 92 and was buried Saturday, was the leader of the most powerful Muslim brotherhood in Senegal, the Mourides.
Four million people, nearly a third of Senegal's population, were expected to make a pilgrimage to his grave over the weekend, said national police chief Assane Ndoye.
Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade called for a national period of mourning. "During this period, flags will be flown at half-mast," said a statement released by the government.
Although Senegal is a secular country, the majority of its democratically elected rulers have had to seek the endorsement of Mbacke. In Senegal, Mbacke's image is ever-present on the dashboards of bush taxis and in the homes of his millions of followers.
Among Mbacke's achievements was the transformation the holy center of Touba from a rural outpost into a city that now has a population of one million.
Touba was founded by Mbacke's father, who died in 1927, and has often been described as a state within a state. Inside the city limits, visitors cannot drink, smoke or dance.
It now has a 5,000-student university and a mosque whose loudspeakers now broadcast the call to prayer over a 12-kilometer (7-mile) radius.
In previous years, Touba has also served as a hub for arms trafficking, but Mbacke was credited with trying to crack down on illicit activity, including drug smuggling and money laundering.
The Mourides is one of several brotherhoods in Senegal, centered around allegiance to the teachings of its founder and his scions and a particular interpretation of the Koran. The Mourides have became wealthy based on Mbacke's investments in agriculture, particularly in peanuts.
Mbacke had been the last surviving son of Touba's founder. The new khalif is one of the founder's grandsons.
Walfadjiri, a Senegalese daily newspaper, proclaimed: "The era of the grandsons has begun."


Updated : 2021-04-11 18:58 GMT+08:00