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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.