Aust rights campaigner charged in Tanzania

Karen Sweeney
·1-min read

An Australian woman who campaigns for the rights of women leaving Islam has been arrested and charged in Tanzania over social media posts.

Supporters of Tanzanian-born Zara Kay say she was held in police custody for 32 hours and had her passport confiscated, allegedly over satirical social media posts deemed critical of the country's president.

The posts, which addressed coronavirus in the east African nation, were made in May when Ms Kay was living in London.

Ms Kay founded Faithless Hijabi, an organisation that supports women who are ostracised or abused for leaving Islam.

In a statement her supporters say she was questioned about the organisation's work, and her own reasons for renouncing Islam.

Ms Kay was freed on bail, and is believed to be required to re-attend a police station in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.

She has been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and supporters say she was hospitalised with related-symptoms after her arrest.

As well as the social media posts, Ms Kay is reportedly facing charges over her failure to return her Tanzanian passport after gaining Australian citizenship, and using a SIM-card in the name of a family member, rather than her own name.

Supporters say they believe the charges are politically motivated and related to her activism.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed consular assistance was being provided to an Australian in Tanzania.

They declined to comment further, citing privacy obligations.