News / Africa

Ideological Battle Brewing in Mombasa Mosques

FILE - Men, part of the 70 arrested during a police raid on a mosque, sit in a court in Shanzu, Feb. 12, 2014.
FILE - Men, part of the 70 arrested during a police raid on a mosque, sit in a court in Shanzu, Feb. 12, 2014.
The Muslim community in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa has been shaken up as a youth movement has taken control of an influential mosque in the city.  A police crackdown on alleged radicals has also created tension in the community.  A battle for religious ideological supremacy is brewing as Kenya continues a crackdown on suspected al-Shabab terrorists in the country.
 
In early February, Kenyan security forces stormed the Masjid Musa Mosque in Mombasa. They killed three people and arrested more than 120 young people.
 
Police say that in the raid they recovered an AK-47 rifle, knives, video disks and flags - which bore the symbols of al-Shabab.  Authorities have accused clerics at the Musa Mosque of recruiting for the Somali militant group al-Shabab in the rundown neighborhood of Majengo.
 
Clerics and young Muslims from the mosque deny the accusations and 100 of the 129 people arrested have been released from custody by the courts due to a lack of evidence.  However, the remaining 29 suspects will face trial.
 
Khalid - who will only give his first name -- said he escaped being captured by police that day in what he says was an unjustified raid.
 
He said he goes to the Musa Mosque - even though he doesn't live nearby - because he likes the sermons.  He said it is the only mosque in the area without a political agenda and where young people and young preachers can express themselves freely without being censored by the religious hierarchy.
 
"Freedom of speech - that's the difference.  Because most of the mosques nowadays are built, we say, they are political mosques; someone is building it for self-benefit or self-gain.  Musa Mosque was built and left for the community.  Because the committee [that] was there didn't want the jihad topic to go on, they were overthrown by the youth," Khalid noted.
 
The dispute at Musa Mosque is part of the growing divide in Muslim communities over how far jihad, or holy war, can go and what tactics are acceptable.

Hassan Ole Nadu, the deputy secretary of the General Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, says the split at Musa Mosque reflects the competing ideologies in the Muslim world.
 
"We have seen for the last few years, a tendency of some of the preaching are aligned to or inclining to certain religious ideology… When you have difference of an opinion with an individual, this ideology goes further and actually calls that person a Kafir [non-believer] or hypocrite," Nadu said. "I think if we are not careful in the country there might be an element of the new ideology which is informed by the global geopolitics of the ongoing in Muslim world and other parts of the world."  
 
Local human rights organizations have accused the Kenyan police of using heavy-handed tactics against the Muslim community, including forced disappearances and murder.  Police have strongly denied the accusations and say they are defending the nation from attack.
 
Abubakar Sharif Ahmed, known as Makaburi, is accused of helping to finance al-Shabab and recruiting young men in Mombasa - accusations he denies.

In a telephone interview with VOA from an undisclosed location in Mombasa, Makaburi said the young men at Musa Mosque are victims of a terrorist witch hunt. 

"The youths like to come to Musa Mosque because it's the only mosque in Kenya that speaks the truth, that supports the oppressed.  And in fact it's the only mosque in Kenya where more imams have been killed by the government than any other mosque in Kenya," Makaburi explained. "So Musa Mosque is not a mosque that is promoting terrorism but it's being terrorized."
 
Khalid said the Musa mosque provides solace to pained young men like him - who have missing family members or love ones killed by unknown gun men. "My dad was taken from there [Musa Mosque]. All my friends are associated with the mosque.  You will find that people in the mosque are the people who are close to you. Every Eid [Muslim celebration] they bring things to you, they bring you monthly basics, some are educated by the same mosque so it's like a joint family in that mosque,"  he said.

Late last month, the members of the mosque changed its name to Masjid Shuhada - or Martyrs Mosque.  They say the change is to show solidarity with those who have been killed by authorities or are facing terrorism charges in Kenya.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid