Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kenya deports Jamaican over terrorism links

By NATION CORRESPONDENT [email protected]

A controversial Jamaican Muslim scholar has been deported over possible terror links.

Sheikh Bilal Philips was turned away at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday evening, a few hours after he landed, sparking protests from Muslim leaders.

According to Anti-Terrorism Police chief Njiru Mwaniki, Sheikh Bilal has been on the police terror list because of his links to terrorist suspects.

Mr Mwaniki claimed the scholar was a dangerous man, who had been denied access in several countries, including the US and Britain.

Violent protests

“Immigration officials informed us of his arrival. We had to turn him away because he easily mobilises people using his controversial teachings wherever he goes. This is dangerous to our country,” said the police boss.

He added: “Sheikh Bilal has been in terror circles and has a close association with radical Jamaican Islamic preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, who was deported by the government in 2010.”

Sheikh al-Faisal’s arrest and subsequent deportation triggered violent demonstrations by the Muslim community in various towns in the country.

Due to his terror links, the government was forced to hire a private jet to fly him to Jamaica after airlines declined to carry him and other countries denied him access.

On Thursday, Muslim leaders termed Sheikh Bilal’s deportation a violation of his rights.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said they would demand an explanation for his deportation.

“The government should tell the Muslim community why they turn back Muslim preachers visiting the country. We shall ensure the scholar returns and concludes his programmes in the country,” said Sheikh Khalifa.

He said the preacher was barred from visiting the US because of his opposition to same-sex marriages.

“Kenya should first find out why he has been barred from visiting some of these countries,” he said.

Sheikh Khalifa said the Islamic scholar had initiated various projects in the country to help those in need.

Mr Abdulswamad Nassir, the patron of Shariff Nassir Foundation, expressed disappointment and said there was need for the government to issue official communication regarding the deportation of Sheikh Bilal.

The preacher is the founder of One Shilling Foundation, a registered trust, that strives to improve the lives of Muslims.

He was scheduled to visit various mosques in Nairobi and Mombasa.

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