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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.