News / Africa

Mombasa Church Stands Firm Despite Sectarian Unrest

An armed policeman carrying a pistol and tear gas patrols while firemen attempt to put out a fire in the Salvation Army Church after it was set on fire by rioting youths, following Friday Muslim prayers in Mombasa, Kenya, Oct. 4, 2013.
An armed policeman carrying a pistol and tear gas patrols while firemen attempt to put out a fire in the Salvation Army Church after it was set on fire by rioting youths, following Friday Muslim prayers in Mombasa, Kenya, Oct. 4, 2013.
A government crackdown on Muslim militants may be having unintended consequences for some Christian churches in Kenya.  For the past two years a Salvation Army Church has been the target of attacks by young Muslim men, angry at what they consider a harsh police crackdown on potential militants. 

The Salvation Army church has stood in Majengo neighborhood of Mombasa since late 1920’s. In recent years the church has been attacked by Muslim youths who have fought with police to protest the deaths of clerics and young men in the government's crack down on al-Shabab militants.

Damage is still visible from an attack last October, when attackers threw gasoline bombs at the church, burning down its training hall and a store.

Six months later, security concerns mean at least two police officers are assigned to protect more than 100 worshipers every Sunday.

Despite the threats, fifty-one-year-old Mary Ivusa still comes to the church, but worries about possible new attacks.

“Fear, fear is too much in our lives because as mothers we come with little children who cannot run, they are still very young, so its fear which is in our lives. And that’s what has made us fearful when there is no enough security,” she said.

In April, two gunmen stormed a church in Mombasa's Likoni neighborhood and opened fire, killing four worshippers and injuring 15 others.

Ivusa, a mother of three, said that attack made many people too afraid to come to church.

“For me I have never missed, but they are so many women who don’t come because they are afraid. They don’t know what will happen next, especially when you see that one which happened in Likoni, it has brought more fear so many mothers have not come,” she said.

Since that attack the government has provided security for churches, especially in coastal towns.

John Muliro, a retired church elder, said church officials had to sacrifice some things to avoid confrontation with youths who might be disturbed by their presence.

“We might say we have changed, like we usually have what we call outdoor meeting whereby we go out to evangelize and sing as we march on the road, we don’t do that. But otherwise we are able to move on and do our best,” he said.

Regional security analysts said some Muslim youths directed their anger at churches because of the disappearances and killings of Muslim clerics and youths accused of having links to terror group al-Shabab in Somalia.

Local human rights organizations accuse the Kenyan police of using heavy-handed tactics against the Muslim community, including forced disappearances and murder.  Police deny the accusations and say they are defending the nation from attack.

Sergent Major Alfred Charles Mugo, an elder at the Salvation Army Church in Mombasa, said Christianity has not wronged the Muslim youths and they should use the right channel to express their grievances.

 “There is rule of law in this country. We are not living as animals in this nation, we have a law if someone has wronged you just go and exercise the law take them to court. You cannot just wake up and start attacking other people as if they are the one who have wronged you,” he said.

For now, at the Salvation Army Church, members of the congregation hope it can stand firm despite the turbulence.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid