Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jamaican Muslim cleric to be deported

A group of Muslims address the press outside Jamia Mosque, Nairobi, during a protest over the arrest of  Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal by the Anti Terrorism Police Unit last week. They said he is an Islamic scholar who was to give lectures to madrassa students for two months. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA

A group of Muslims address the press outside Jamia Mosque, Nairobi, during a protest over the arrest of Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal by the Anti Terrorism Police Unit last week. They said he is an Islamic scholar who was to give lectures to madrassa students for two months. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA 

By DOMINIC WABALA, GALGALO BOCHA and PAUL JUMA

Cabinet minister Otieno Kajwang’ on Sunday signed a deportation order for Jamaican Islamic cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal.

The sheikh was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit in Mombasa. The cleric, who entered Kenya through the Lunga Lunga border point from Tanzania, is to be deported to Jamaica this week. Al-Faisal was deported from Britain after serving a five-year jail sentence on terror-related charges.

Mr Kajwang’, who is in charge of Immigration, said that Sheikh al-Faisal is on an international watch-list of terrorists and would not have been allowed into the country had he entered through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Moi International Airport or any other entry point linked to the e-border control system.

Denied entry

The cleric has previously been denied entry into Kenya. Before his arrival in Kenya, he had travelled to Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, and Tanzania. He was arrested minutes after attending evening prayers at a Nyali mosque.

“I have already signed his deportation letter and he will be deported back to his country at the earliest opportunity. The information we have is that he was arrested in Britain and jailed five years ago on terrorism-related charges. We are not deporting him because he is a Muslim,’’ Mr Kajwang’ said.

He went on: ‘‘We are deporting him because of his terrorist history and the fact that he is on the international watch-list. We have no charges against him, but he took advantage of the situation at Lunga Lunga border to enter the country. He deliberately entered by road at a border point not linked to our computer system.”

The Immigration minister dismissed allegations by the Muslim Human Rights Forum that Muslim clerics were being targeted. He said he had signed many work permits for Muslim clerics from Sudan and Libya who are in the country.

The cleric’s passport shows he tried to enter the country previously but was denied entry. Al-Faisal was deported from Britain in 2007 where he had lived for 20 years for allegedly preaching “hatred against Jews, Hindus and Westerners”. He had been jailed in 2003 for the offence.

Born Trevor William Forrest, Al-Faisal, who is from St James in Jamaica, left the island for the UK 26 years ago. His parents were Salvation Army officers and he was raised as a Christian, but when he was aged 16, he went to Saudi Arabia, where he became a Muslim and spent eight years studying Islam at Madina University.

Later, he took a degree in Islamic Studies in the Saudi capital of Riyadh before going to the UK. The Muslim Human Rights Forum said that Al-Faisal’s arrest was discriminatory since preachers of other faiths are granted similar visitors’ visa. “This is curtailing Sheikh al-Faisal’s freedoms of expression and association in a very discriminative manner and holding him incommunicado, which is totally unacceptable,” said the group’s chairman Al-Amin Kimathi.

The controversial cleric had by Sunday been flown to Nairobi for further interrogation by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit. The detectives picked him up at Port Police Station and moved him under tight security to Mombasa’s Moi International Airport where he boarded an evening flight to Nairobi.

Coast provincial police boss Leo Nyongesa confirmed that the cleric was taken to the Anti-Terrorism Police headquarters for further interrogation. Nominated MP Sheikh Mohammed Dor said in Mombasa that Muslims will on Monday go to court to oppose the deportation.

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