Plan to vet Islamic teachers proposed

Tuesday April 7 2015

Mourners say prayers and light candles in remembrance of the victims of the Garissa attack outside the National Archives in Nairobi on April 7, 2015. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI

Mourners say prayers and light candles in remembrance of the victims of the Garissa attack outside the National Archives in Nairobi on April 7, 2015. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The umbrella body of Muslims in the country has pledged to start vetting preachers and what they teach in madrasas to tame radicalisation of youth.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) on Tuesday unveiled its “emergency programme” to check the lure of Muslims youth into joining Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based terrorist group blamed for the Garissa massacre.

“We will respond to this problem with the seriousness it deserves,” said Mr Adan Wachu, the Supkem secretary-general.

“We will be putting all our Imams and preachers, be it in Northeastern, at the Coast, in Nairobi or anywhere in Kenya, to speak with one voice with the view of taking inventory of all mosques and madrasas.”

Mr Wachu, whose organisations is in charge of all mosques and Muslim educational centres in the country, said the new measures will weed out Imams who have been recruiting fighters for Al-Shabaab.

On Tuesday, Attorney-General Githu Muigai told the Nation that his office will continue meeting religious leaders to finalise regulations that will tame religious centres used by rogue preachers.

“Those (religious leaders) who want to be part of this, and they are many, have already joined us and we are having a very healthy debate one the way forward. Those who don’t want to be part of this, we will leave the law to take its course on them,” Prof Muigai said in a telephone interview.

To begin with, Supkem said that it will vet preachers and Quran teachers around the country with the help of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK).

“We want to know them, have their records, (know) who they are teaching, what they are teaching and when they are teaching,” he said.

LURED TO AL-SHABAAB

Madrasas generally do not have a regular syllabus but given that they are supposed to educate children on the Quran, teachers are required to teach the Arabic alphabet, Seerah (biography of Prophet Mohammed) and Hadith (teachings of the Prophet).

These teachings mainly hinge on morality and Islamic religious practices. Although teachers must be versed with Arabic, the Quran and be of good moral standing, there is nothing currently that prevents them from veering off and teaching terrorism.

At the weekend, political leaders from northern Kenya acknowledged that some youth from the region had been lured to fight for Al-Shabaab, including perpetrating attacks on Kenyan soil.

Last Thursday, terrorists raided Garissa University College killing 148 people dead including 142 students, two police officers, two security guards and a soldier. Police have since revealed that one of the attackers was a Kenyan lawyer whose father is a chief in Wajir County.

Political leaders, led by Majority Leader Aden Duale, and the governors of Wajir, Garissa and Mandera, said they would expose the financiers and supporters of Al-Shabaab.

“We will within a week mobilise our constituents, and working with the national and county governments compile and submit details of suspects with the government agencies validating the information to guard against victimisation,” they said in a joint statement on Monday. They now have four days.