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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    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 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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora