Australian activist claims she was arrested over a tweet and she's still on bail in Tanzania


Ms Kay said she felt unsafe in Tanzania while out on bail. (Twitter/@Zarakayk)


Australian activist Zara Kay, stuck in Tanzania since being arrested in December over a tweet ridiculing its president, has called on the Australian Government to intervene and help end her uncertainty.


Ms Kay has been on bail since she was arrested on December 28, when she was held for 32 hours and had her passport confiscated.


She is yet to be charged with a crime.


"Initially, they arrested me for a post I made when I was in London as an Australian citizen [in May last year] about the President [of Tanzania]," she told RN Breakfast.


"It was a satire post and a post on his handling of COVID-19."


It is believed Tanzanian authorities are pursuing charges over alleged immigration violations, related to her holding an Australian citizenship but also having a Tanzanian passport.


Ms Kay said the dual passport issue was only raised after her initial arrest over the tweet.


"Other activists have had trumped-up charges and this seems to be one of those cases," she said.


"They didn't realise I was an Australian citizen, they didn't know it at the time when they arrested me and they brought up another charge while I was in custody.


"They had no idea what my legal name was or if I was Australian and then it was surprising to them that my family was Tanzanian and I was Australian."


Ms Kay said that under Tanzanian law, once someone receives citizenship from another country, they forfeit the right to a Tanzanian passport.


"I never thought about returning my [Tanzanian] passport because I'd never used it and I came in with my Australian passport and on a visa."


No activism in Tanzania, claims Ms Kay


Ms Kay is the founder of Faithless Hijabi, an organisation for women who have left the Islamic faith or are questioning their religious beliefs.


She said the organisation helps women to share their stories and find mental health support.


Ms Kay claims she was not pursuing activism in Tanzania.


"No, I was in Australia when I had first opened it. It was about two and a half years ago when I first opened Faithless Hijabi," she said.


"[I have had] cases like Rahaf [Mohammed], the Saudi Arabian girl who ran away and was stuck in Thailand, she was one of my first cases."


Activist says she has received death threats


Ms Kay said was fearful for her safety after Tanzanian authorities released details of her case to local press.


"I'm getting even more death threats and it's not a safe place for me to be right now," she said.


"They put my public name out and there have been people who said, 'we should behead her', or 'she deserves this punishment because she left Islam', or 'she's an activist'."


She called on the Australian Government to intervene on her behalf, including to confirm her citizenship status with Tanzanian authorities.


She said she wanted the Australian Government to bring her home.


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told RN Breakfast it was providing consular assistance to an Australian in Tanzania but could not confirm their identity because of privacy obligations.


Ms Kay said she had not been told when she could face charges.


"It's been four weeks since my arrest and I haven't got a charge sheet or a court date," she said.


"I report to the police weekly. It used to be daily but it's now moved to weekly with no updates at all on what the next steps are."

This article was published by ABC.

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