NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – Muslim leaders have come out to strongly condemn the burning of a Salvation Army Church in Mombasa on Friday during protests against the killing of controversial cleric Sheikh Ibraihm Ismail and three others on Thursday night.
The leaders drawn from the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), Jamia Mosque Committee, Majlis Ulamaa Kenya, Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamaa and the Muslim Human Rights Forum termed the act, “appalling.”
“There is no co-relation, there is no relation between those who were killed and the church that was burnt. The Salvation Army church did not kill those people so why would anybody think burning a place of worship would bring them retribution for the deaths,” SUPKEM Secretary General Adan Wachu posed incredulously.
The muslim leaders also condemned the killing of four rioting youth in Mombasa during a confrontation with the police terming them, “extra-judicial.”
They said despite the fact that the youth were disrupting peace, they should have been allowed their day in court and presumed innocent until proven guilty as the principles of natural law demand.
But despite their unanimous voice where these two issues are concerned, the leaders were unable to agree on where the blame for the killing of Ismail and his associates should lie.
While Wachu was insistent that no conclusions should be made before investigations are concluded, Al-Amin Kimathi of Muslim Human Rights insisted that the killings were linked to the assassination of Sheikh Aboud Rogo Mohamed’s who was killed last year.
“We have noticed a pattern of disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the past and those killings in the past are also mirrored in these killings. We are not children and we can draw conclusions,” Kimathi stated.
Kimathi has called for, “independent,” investigations without elaborating on how exactly this would be done but he did imply that he believed that security agents were involved in one way or another in the alleged disappearances and killings.
Wachu was however, adamant that such a conclusion could not be reached as there was no way to prove Ismail was killed because he was Rogo’s successor.
“We cannot say that this person has been killed because he took Rogo’s place and that there was a fear that he would pick up where Rogo left off in his extremist teachings,” Wachu stressed.
Two years before his death, Rogo had been arraigned in court on suspicion of being involved in the bombing of a Kampala-bound bus and had been previously suspected of involvement in the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel at the Coast in 2002.
It is for these reasons that his supporters believed security agents were behind his assassination rioting both then and after the killing of Ismail who was widely viewed as Rogo’s successor.
And again while the Muslim leaders present at Saturday’s media briefing agreed that the terror attack at Westgate shopping mall on September 21 and the burning of the church on Friday were indicative of increased Islamic extremism, they were unable to give a clear line of action on how to mitigate it.