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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora