News / Africa

Crackdown on Militants Fuels Radicalization in Mombasa

Kenyan police men walk past members of the public standing behind the cordoned off area outside the church where gunmen attacked worshippers attending a church service in Mombasa, March 23, 2014.
Kenyan police men walk past members of the public standing behind the cordoned off area outside the church where gunmen attacked worshippers attending a church service in Mombasa, March 23, 2014.
A government crackdown on Muslim militants in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa is making the work of human rights advocates and moderate Muslim clerics more difficult, as they face danger both from security forces and radical youths.

In March, two gunmen stormed a church in Mombasa's Likoni neighborhood and opened fire, killing four worshippers and injuring 15 others. Days later, City Commissioner Nelson Marwa called for his officers to execute terror suspects who he believed were behind the church attack, and those roaming in the streets targeting innocent people.

The commissioner was condemned by human rights campaigners who also called for his resignation.

A week later the commissioner said he was putting the campaigners on notice, as they planned to protest the killing of controversial cleric Abubakar Sharif Ahmed, also known as Makaburi.

Advocating human rights

Khalid Hussein is the head of Haki Africa, a rights group whose name in Swahili means "Justice." He said security officials should not vent their anger and frustrations at human rights campaigners.

“We feel that the government is under a lot of pressure and understandably so, because insecurity of this nature would put anyone under frustration. But we get very concerned when government authorities take it out on civil society groups that are actually trying to help,” Hussein said.

Mombasa has witnessed a wave of terror attacks and killings of suspected terror suspects. Fingers are being pointed at security officers, an accusation strongly denied by the government.

As the threats and attacks increase, Hussein said it is becoming dangerous for rights activists to walk in the streets.

“Even as human rights activists, we face threats almost on a daily basis from government officers, sometimes from communities that feel we need to do more," he said. "Sometimes we get people asking us to come out more firmly and demand justice be done. When we tell them the wheels of justice move on their own pace, they do not get satisfied.”

Radical youths

Some Muslim communities in Mombasa have been angered by radical youths taking over two influential mosques in the Majengo neighborhood.

Late last year, hundreds of Muslim youths armed with knives invaded Sakina mosque and ejected the clerics, holding the mosque under siege for more than two hours.

The day of the attack, the Council of Imams and Preachers chairman Sheikh Mohamed Idris was in the mosque giving sermons, as he has for the past 35 years.  

Idris noted six months later the same youths still call the clerics names and accuse them of working with the government to oppress the Muslim community. He said the clerics were not antagonizing the youths in anyway, did not insult them or speak poorly about them, but they call the clerics bad names in the streets. Idris said the youths call the clerics hypocrites, and call the Council of Imams and Preachers the "Satan organization."  

Three years ago, the CIPK and other Muslim organizations convened an Islamic conference to bring together top scholars to discuss whether fighting in neighboring Somalia between militant group al-Shabab and the Somali government was a holy war.

Battling al-Shabab

The scholars agreed there was no holy war in Somalia and some clerics, like Idris, believe that conclusion might have angered the youths and supporters of al-Shabab.  

Sheikh Idris said that since he left the mosque, all the sermons are about jihad and how radical Muslims are treated by the government, nothing else.

But Idris said when something goes wrong, it is important for people to sit, look at it very keenly, and call on people who are well-educated and understand the topic at hand. He asked that if what is happening now were to continue, who will listen to whom?

Kenya has troops in Somalia fighting al-Shabab. The al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility for last year's assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, in which more than 60 people were killed.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs