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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 23:06 GMT
Senegal brotherhood leader dies
Bara Falilou (5 August 2007)
Bara Falilou is a grandson of the movement's founder
The leader of Senegal's richest and most powerful Islamic brotherhood has died in the city of Touba aged 92.

Serigne Saliou Mbacke was the fifth caliph of the Mouride brotherhood, as well as religious adviser to the Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade.

Mr Wade, who visited Touba to pay his respects to Mr Mbacke and his family on Friday, has declared three days of national mourning until Monday.

Mr Mbacke was son of the first caliph, who founded the brotherhood in 1883.

The new caliph, Mouhamadou Lamine Bara Mbacke, is the first grandson of Caliph Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke to become leader.

'Huge loss'

Mr Mbacke was buried overnight on Friday, a number of hours before the news of his death was released, in order to ensure the ceremony was not disrupted by his grief-stricken "talibes" or disciples.

Thousands of mourners later converged on the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Touba, 200km (125 miles) east of the capital, Dakar, to pay their respects.

Radio stations interrupted their programming to pay tribute to the late religious leader, while music star Cheikh Lo brought his late-night concert in Dakar to an abrupt end when news of Mr Mbacke's passing arrived.

Caliph Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke
Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke founded the Mouride brotherhood in 1883

"Serigne Saliou's calling back to God is a huge loss for me, for Senegal and for the entire Muslim community," said the Mines and Industry Minister, Madicke Niang.

President Wade, a Mouride disciple who openly paid allegiance to the caliph after his election victory in 2000, declared three days of national mourning.

Since it was founded at the end of the 19th Century, the Mouride brotherhood has become one of the fastest growing religious communities in Senegal.

The BBC's Hamadou Tidiane Sy in Dakar says it is also known internationally thanks to the dynamism of its migrant community of traders, now scattered around the world.

Its disciples are characterised by their adherence to any instruction coming from their leader, our correspondent says.

Over the years, the brotherhood has also become one of the most influential players in the Senegalese political arena.

The caliph also owned a number of huge farms, where hundreds of his followers worked.

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