, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – A section of Muslim clerics in Eastleigh are now telling radicalised youths who are willing to desert the Al Shabaab, not to report to security agencies for amnesty as had been directed by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery.
Sheikh Mohamed Osman who is among those whose bank accounts were frozen on suspicion of financing the Al Shabaab told the youths to report to the clerics instead.
“Instead of going to the government – which I believe they will not do – we want them to come to us and we start rehabilitating them, cleansing them, giving them the right religion,” he said.
He said that by reporting to the Nairobi, Mombasa or Garissa County Commissioners as directed by Nkaissery, the youths risked torture and even death.
“Those who desert Al Shabaab should be rehabilitated, not intimidated, not to be killed, not to be taken without any reason. It is like telling them stay there, don’t come, we will kill you,” he said.
Once they reported to the clerics, he said, the modalities of the youths engagement with the security agencies would be worked out.
And to that end he, “advised,” Nkaissery to extend the amnesty period whose 10 days ends on April 25, for another 30 days to allow for, “consultations.”
“We requested the government to make that amnesty 30 days so that all those who want to think and consult, can think and consult,” he said.
The Sheikh also demanded that the government establish three rehabilitation centres for Al Shabaab deserters in Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa.
He said clerics would then conduct a “national awareness campaign,” against radicalisation.
Osman together with Sheikh Mohamed Umal also demanded that their accounts be unfrozen arguing that contrary to what the government believed, their work with Muslim youths had prevented attacks similar to the April 2 Garissa University College massacre of 142 students and six servicemen by Al Shabaab recruits.
“We have done a lot. If today we were not here the problem in Kenya would be much bigger than what you see today,” he claimed.
The government – Osman, Umal and the other Muslim clerics who joined them at a press briefing on Sunday argued – should therefore do their jobs and let the clerics do theirs minus intimidation such as the freezing of their bank accounts.
“They should stop trying to deflect blame for their laxity by closing the businesses of Muslims,” Sheikh Mohamed Shakul said.
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