Muslim clerics disown protests

Tuesday January 19 2010

Mombasa based Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza [r] addressing a press conference together with coast province SUPKEM chairman Sheikh Muhdhar Shariff Khitamy. The clerics called on Muslims to desist from the planned demonstration in Mombasa on Friday this week. Photo / Laban Walloga.

Mombasa based Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza [r] addressing a press conference together with coast province SUPKEM chairman Sheikh Muhdhar Shariff Khitamy. The clerics called on Muslims to desist from the planned demonstration in Mombasa on Friday this week. Photo / Laban Walloga. 

By NATION Team

Muslim leaders have asked youths in Mombasa to call of their planned demonstration on Friday.

The youths intended to protest in show of solidarity with Jamaican preacher Abdulla al-Faisal who has been in detention pending his deportation after he was linked to terrorism.

The leaders also disowned the sheikh — who served a seven-year jail term in the UK for hate-speech — and called for his immediate deportation.

They said al-Faisal’s presence in the country had brought unnecessary hatred and acrimony.

The leaders, led by Sheikh Muhdhar Shariff Khitamy, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Coast branch chairman, and Sheikh Abu Hamza (above) asked al-Faisal to give Kenyans a break.

“We called this press conference on receiving reliable information that a small group of reckless individuals is planning to cause chaos,” he said.

Officials of Supkem, Kenya Assembly of Ulamaa and Imams (Kauli), Moon Sighting Committee, the Muslims Association, Majmaul Ahbaab attended the press conference at Sonara Hall.

In Nairobi, the executive director of Muslims Human Rights Forum, Mr al-Amin Kimathi, was on Tuesday charged with resisting lawful arrest.

However he did not plead to that and other charges as he opted to challenge them saying they did not disclose any offence.

He said in the charge of incitement to violence police indicated that he uttered some words, without quoting those words, which in his view makes the charge defective.

Through his lawyer, Mr Haroun Ndubi, he told chief magistrate Gilbert Mutembei that the allegations of incitement to violence against him, was just an opinion of the officer who drew the charge.

Mr Ndubi further told the court that the police do not even have powers to cancel any protest under the law. And by purporting to cancel the Friday protest, the police were acting outside powers given to them under the law.

What the law provides is for one to notify the police in advance before holding a demonstration and this doesn’t give the officers powers to cancel it, the court was told.

The court, in a short ruling, said there were no proper grounds to warrant denial of bail for Mr Kimathi who was given a Sh100,000 cash bail and is expected to appear in court again on January 22.

In Nakuru, a group of Muslims disowned the Friday protests. The Nakuru branch of the Baladia Muslims of Kenya accused Mr Kimathi of misleading Muslim youths to stage last Friday’s protest.

“We shall not support any Muslim activist using our youths to cause mayhem against fellow Kenyans,” Mr Abdallah Nasir Omera said.

In a related incident, 19, foreigners arrested in a swoop in Nakuru at the weekend were on Tuesday charged with being in the country illegally.

The accused who included 17 Somalis and two Sudanese had been arraigned in court on Monday, but they did not take pleas because they could neither understand Kiswahili nor English. The case was carried forward to yesterday when interpreters went to court.

They all denied the charges and were freed on a bond of Sh30,000 each and a surety of the same amount. Their case will be heard on the different dates between February 1 and February 4.

Al-Shabaab

Meanwhile, more than 60 foreigners were picked from casinos, bars and restaurants in Nairobi as police intensified swoops targeting al-Shabaab supporters in the city.

The Monday raid was part of several operations that started at Eastleigh on Sunday and which could be extended to other parts of the country.
Twelve MPs from Somalia were among those arrested.

Five of the legislators have been cleared after interrogations by officers from the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit. The rest were charged with being in Kenya illegally and are awaiting deportation.

Close to 500 foreigners have been arrested and 50 of then have been handed over to the anti-terror police for “further screening.”

The government has attempted to deport Al-Faisal, through the Gambia, but Nigeria denied him a transit visa and he was brought back to Kenya.

Reported by Galgalo Bocha, Jillo Kadida, Lucas Barasa, Fred Mukinda and Francis Mureithi