Muslims in Kenya are celebrating the holy month of Ramadhan, one of the pillars of Islam in which strict fasting is observed from dawn to sunset, amid messages of peace and love.
Mombasa leaders led by Governor Hassan Joho and security bosses on Friday assured the faithful that security will be enhanced during the Ramadhan period.
Governor Joho said he will work with security forces to ensure the holy month is not disrupted by security threats.
Speaking during the first Friday prayers, the governor called for forgiveness among Kenyans.
“Let us forgive each other. This is a very crucial and holy month among Muslim faithful. It is a time to reflect, pray, forgive and help the less fortunate.
"I want to remind myself and others about the importance of Ramadhan. Be good to your brother and wish them well,” Mr Joho said.
He added: “There is a lot of goodwill and good wishes from our non-Muslim brothers, and we appreciate and thank them. Let us pray for peace, tranquillity and security.”
During the holy month, Muslims go to mosques to pray at night.
“Security is important, and we have ensured there will be intensified patrols. We should also improve infrastructure to ensure floods do not affect residents. Those who were affected have been housed, and we are giving them food,” Mr Joho said.
Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara said police have been deployed to mosques and other places of worship.
“In Mombasa, we have put in place elaborate measures that will ensure peace exists during and after Ramadhan. In Majengo and Kibokoni, we have two youth groups assisting police in busting crime,” Mr Ipara said.
In Isiolo, Muslim leaders have urged residents to be vigilant and report those radicalising youth to security officers.
They also urged Kenyans to be on the lookout following a security alert over possible attacks by Al-Shabaab during Ramadhan.
Last week, National Police Service Spokesman Charles Owino in a statement said security agencies had obtained credible intelligence suggesting that the terror group was planning to carry out attacks in various parts of the country during Ramadhan.
Isiolo Inter-religious Council Chairman Ahmed Set urged residents to embrace Nyumba Kumi as a way of identifying criminals in the society.
“Isiolo has been on the limelight over violent extremism. Young people have been radicalised and they have crossed to Somalia to join the terror group. They end up causing harm to Kenyans,” he added.
Isiolo Parent’s Association Chair Ismail Galma also urged parents to closely monitor activities of their children, and report missing kin to authorities.
Mr Galma said stakeholders should collaborate and dialogue to fight violent extremism.
“Cases of radicalisation have gone down following concerted efforts of religious leaders, parents and security agencies, but we need to do more,” he said.
Muslims in Nakuru joined their colleagues around the world in marking the beginning of Ramadhan.
The hundreds of faithful gathered in various mosques within Nakuru Town to conduct special prayers.
On Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the Ramadhan period gives Kenyans an opportunity to reflect on the beauty of their cultural and religious diversity.
He also called for unity. “I also take this opportunity to encourage all Kenyans to cherish unity; and to discard the small issues that divide us while embracing the bonds that unite us.
Reported by Kevin Fedha, Vivian Jebet, Joseph Openda and Winnie Atieno