A section of leaders from the Somali community have opposed the police operation in Mombasa and Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, which they say is unfairly targeting Muslims.
The leaders who were drawn from various political, business and religious circles accused the governments of profiling Muslims in general and Somalis in particular following a spate of security incidents.
“The government has sent security agencies in Eastleigh and they are killing and robbing residents,” said former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Farah Maalim.
The leaders spoke in Nairobi as Nyali MP Hezron Awiti supported the government’s security operation saying terrorists and criminals should be given the same treatment they mete out to their victims. Police on the other hand stepped up their operations and said they would not relent.
The MP said investors were keeping away from Mombasa County due to the ongoing terror attacks warning that if they were left to continue tourism would be adversely affected.
Mr Awiti also urged the government to investigate and punish those involved in the murder of the fiery Muslim cleric Sheikh Abubakar Shariff alias Makaburi.
He condemned Sheikh Makaburi’s death, but also warned the youths against engaging in protests whenever clerics were killed, maintaining that this will only divide Kenyans.
“Even if my child is an Al Qaeda member let him be gunned down. Religious differences are emerging: why is it when Christians were killed in a Likoni church youths never demonstrated but when a Muslim cleric is killed youths take to the street?” he said.
The MP added: “We have been patient, but this must stop. We want peace. Citizens, you have an obligation to report any criminal and terrorist among us, and even suspicious foreigners.”
In Nairobi Mr Maalim accused police of planting evidence on some of those arrested.
“The government is using the threat of terrorism as a scapegoat to seek Western validation and support,” Mr Maalim said.
Lagdera MP Mohammed Shidiye accused the government of violating the Constitution by arresting and detaining people without cause.
“The Somali community occupies the largest area in the country and yet it is treated the worst. The innocent are being arrested and their identity cards mutilated,” Mr Shidiye said.
The MP further condemned the actions of al-Shabaab and said that radicalism would work against the community’s interests.
“When non-Somali al-Shabaab members were found to be behind terror activities no security activities were conducted against their counties or tribes. Why is the government collectively victimising the Somali community?” he asked.
Mr Hassan Ali, a member of the Somali business community, said that the country risked religious war and could go the way of the Central African Republic if the government continued targeting Muslims.
In Mombasa, a human rights lobby, Haki Africa, lodged a complaint against the Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa saying his recent utterance on dealing ruthlessly with terrorists was a threat to its staff.
Accompanied by Haki Africa lawyer Yusuf Mahmoud Aboubakar, Mr Khaled visited the Central Police Station at about 10.35a.m. to make his formal complaint before being issued with an OB number.
“We have come here to make a formal complaint about the commissioner’s public utterances which we construe as a threat to the civil society,” Mr Aboubakar said outside the station.
The lawyer said they would file a court case to have the administrator arrested and prosecuted for his statement that could be misused by trigger-happy security personnel.
Muslim for Human Rights director Khalef Khalifa alleged the attack and killing of eight people at Masjid Mussa in early February was “pre-mediated and pre-planned” by the security apparatus.
“We cannot continue like this and this should stop. That is why on Monday we will be seeking court intervention,” he said.
At the same time, an uneasy calm returned to sections of the vast Majengo area with small-scale traders, garages and cafes around Masjid Musa (now renamed Shuhadaa) opening for business.
Contacted on phone, Mr Marwa stuck to his guns and accused some human rights bodies of doublespeak to secure funds from international donors for their activities.
Reported by Waga Odongo, Winnie Atieno and Mwakera Mwajefa