Police Stigmatization Haunts Kenya Muslims

OnIslam & News Agencies

Muslims imams warned that police attacks were playing into the hands of Al-Shabaab group.

MOMBASA – Falling victims to repeated police raids, Kenya Muslims have complained that unjustified attacks were fueling anti-Muslim sentiments in the society as well as crippling their efforts to eradicate radicalism.

“Those of us who have stood up to speak against these things are viewed as traitors,” Hassan Suleiman Mohammed, a Kenyan Muslim imam, told Reuters on Wednesday, October 30.

Mohammed, a moderate Muslim, was abused by a group of radicals who threatened him for not supporting jihad.

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Kenya Muslims have been sensing eradication of their rights following Wetgate mall attack in which more than 60 people were killed which was claimed by Somalia's militant al Shabaab group.

The mall attack was immediately condemned by the Supreme council of Kenya Muslims, which confirmed its support to the security and government organs during the difficult time that Kenya faces.

Kenya Muslims have also organized a campaign to donate blood in solidarity with victims of Al-Shabaab rampage in the Westgate mall.

Lining to give blood, Muslims confirmed that those “barbaric acts” have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam and the noble Qur’an.

Yet, in the first anti-Muslim backlash after Westgate mall attack, a gunman in Kenya has shot dead four people including a popular Muslim scholar in the port city of Mombasa.

The Kenyan police have been denying all accusations of targeting the wider Muslim community or waging anti- Muslim haunt.

“We have never been brutal,” said Robert Kitur, Mombasa county police commander.

“People shouldn't generalize this is about Muslims.”

“These are not Muslims, these are hooligans. We are going to deal with these people ruthlessly. We are just applying force when it is necessary.”

Fueling Terrorism

Muslims imams warned that police attacks were playing into the hands of Al-Shabaab group.

Police tactics “are benefiting al Shabaab more than they are benefiting the government,” said Akullah Khamis, a 33-year-old Muslim in Mombasa, Kenya's second city.

Khamis added that he rejected an offer three years ago to join Al-Shabaab.

Abubakar Shariff, a Muslim preacher, added that Al-Shabaab recruiters were benefiting from the arrests and raids on mosques and the aftermath of deadly clashes.

“This being done to Muslims opens the eyes of the youth to al Shabaab being right,” Shariff said.

Meanwhile, analysts have warned that Muslims who support government or police tactics were the most vulnerable to Al- Shabaab retaliation.

“It is especially difficult to aggressively speak out against al-Shabaab down at the coast,” said Bryan Kahumbura, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“So many people feel the government can't guarantee their own personal security and safety.”

Al Shabaab, which is battling Kenyan and other African peacekeepers in Somalia, had repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of the Horn of Africa country.

Shabaab militant group has been launching deadly attacks against the Somali government over the past four years.

The attacks have killed hundreds of civilians and displaced thousands.

Declaring its affiliation to Al-Qaeda in 2010, Shabaab announced struggle against neighboring countries.

In a fatwa issued earlier this month, Somali religious scholars condemned al-Shabaab's use of violence, saying the group had no place in Islam.

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