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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs