NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 23 – A controversial Jamaican-born Muslim cleric was deported from Kenya soon after he landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Thursday morning from Qatar.
Sheikh Bilal Philips, a renowned Muslim scholar who is banned from preaching in most European countries was arrested due to security concerns after he arrived in Nairobi.
Anti terrorism police officers said they had received reports he was scheduled to preach and give lectures in various mosques in Nairobi and Mombasa.
“We did not want to wait until he starts preaching for us to arrest him. That is why we acted fast,” one police officer attached to the unit said.
Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe confirmed the deportation and revealed it was done for security reasons.
“The Muslim cleric was deported due to security concerns. We always put security of our nation first,” he said, without elaborating.
Muslim leaders were due to address a news conference later on Thursday following the deportation.
A statement said the cleric was due in Kenya on a lecture tour and had planned meetings with Muslim leaders.
“However, he was unceremoniously deported out of the country hours after his arrival and this went contrary to pledges by the director of immigration that he will not be deported,” the Muslim leaders said.
In January 2010, another Muslim cleric Abdulah El-Faisal was deported to Jamaica after days of violent protests in the capital Nairobi by fellow Muslims, following his arrest and detention ahead of the expulsion.
His passport showed he entered East Africa through the little known Tanzanian town of Kasumulu in 2009 before he crossed over to Kenya from Horohoro through to Lunga Lunga in the South Coast.
El-Faisal, who was jailed for four years in Britain for inciting racial hatred, was arrested in the port city of Mombasa in December by Kenyan police, who had initially tried and failed to deport him twice.
The 45-year-old firebrand cleric’s arrest without charge sparked an outcry among Kenya’s Muslim community and protests which left five people dead.