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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora