News / Africa

Controversial Mombasa Mosque Sees Drop in Attendance

FILE - Muslims faithfuls carry a coffin with the body of Sheikh Mohammed Idris, chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), who was gunned down by assailants near his home in Mombasa, June 10, 2014.
FILE - Muslims faithfuls carry a coffin with the body of Sheikh Mohammed Idris, chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), who was gunned down by assailants near his home in Mombasa, June 10, 2014.

Some Muslim leaders in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa have called on security officials not to harass worshipers at the Musa mosque in Majengo.  The mosque has been a magnet for police surveillance because of suspected radicalism and connections to the Somali militant group al-Shabab. 

The drive to the mosque, located in the Majengo neighborhood takes a little longer these days due to heightened concern about security.  Motorists and pedestrians try to avoid the mosque in general.

Inside, there are few worshipers.  It is quite a contrast to the days when the mosque was so full, many had to pray on the streets outside.  

Musa long had a reputation of attracting young men due to what many describe as a more liberal and intellectually open atmosphere.  It is that same reputation, which attracted authorities to scrutinize those preaching for radical content.
Now the young avoid the mosque, due to fears they will be caught in another security crackdown or labeled terrorist sympathizers.
Noor Abdullah, a 25-year-old Majengo resident is one of them.  He said he stopped praying in the mosque after a police raid which left some people dead.  He said he is too afraid it could happen again and he'd be caught up in it.

During that February raid, Kenyan security forces killed three people and arrested more than 100 young people - most of whom were later released by the courts.

Al-Shabab Timeline

2006 - Launches insurgency to take control of Somalia and impose strict Islamic law
2008 - U.S. declares al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization
2009 - Seizes control of parts of Mogadishu and the port city Kismayo
2010 - Expands control across central and southern Somalia, carries out deadly bombing in Kampala, Uganda
2011 - Blocks drought/famine aid from areas under its control
2011 - East African leaders declare al-Shabab a regional threat; Ethiopian, Kenyan troops enter Somalia to pursue the group, which is driven out of Mogadishu
2012 - Declares itself an al-Qaida ally, loses ground in Somalia, abandons strategic coastal stronghold Kismayo
2013 - Attacks Mogadishu court complex, killing more than 30 and attacks mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 69 people
2014 - Attack in Mogadishu kills more than 10 on New Year's Day

But Kenyan security forces said they recovered an AK-47 rifle, knives, video disks and flags which bore the symbols of Somali militant group al-Shabab.  

Kenyan authorities allege some of the Musa Mosque clerics are recruiting for al-Shabab among the poor young men in the rundown neighborhood of Majengo.
Sheikh Juma Ngao, the chairman of Kenya's Muslim National Advisory Council, argues worshipers should not be harassed because of a few individuals who are suspected of preaching hate and violence.

"People who are performing prayers in Musa mosque should not be any given time be harassed, even if there is one suspect or two in that mosque.  It's not a reason to the government or police to harass the Muslims in that mosque.  What they must do first they must do their investigation before taking any action like the way they did in the previous time," stated Ngao.

Local human rights organizations have accused Kenyan police of using heavy-handed tactics against the Muslim community, including forced disappearances and murder.  Police have strongly denied the accusations and say their actions are in defense of a nation under attack from militants both inside the country and in neighboring Somalia.

Abdullah said families feel they are no longer safe and some are leaving Majengo altogether.

He said it is very sad to see how empty the mosque is during the holy month of Ramadan - which is a time when people especially loved to go.  He said even people who live around the mosque have moved, leaving empty houses behind.
Sheikh Ngao said in the past four months, clerics and local human rights groups have been trying to work with the mosque leadership and young worshipers there to ensure that radicalism is not part of the culture, and to allay fears within broader Kenya.  "They were ready to quit their understanding of Jihad and join the other side of the Muslim clerics and forge forward and march forward with their mission of peace," he said.
Ngao said the message of peace needs time to sink in, and the support of holy teachers so young people can truly understand their religion - in Musa and elsewhere.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs