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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs