LAMU – Muslim leaders have vehemently criticized imposing a 12-hour curfew during the last week of Ramadan in Kenya's Lamu County over security precautions, deeming it a setback for the freedom of worship in the restive African country.
“The Inspector General should have considered the religious obligations Muslims have on the holy month of Ramadan and especially on these last ten days,” Prof. Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims told Anadolu Agency on Sunday, July 21.
“We call upon the government to reverse the directive.”
The much criticized curfew has been put into force by Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo in Lamu after an attack by Somali's Al-Shabaab group that left seven killed, including four police officers two weeks ago.
Announcing the curfew, from 6.30 pm to 6.30 am, has angered the city’s Muslims who will not be able to perform Taraweh prayer at the mosques.
Muslims - both men and women - attend the Tarawih prayers in the mosques after `Isha (the last evening prayer) to pray in congregation.
The Tarawih prayers are voluntary, but are strongly recommended and widely practiced.
During the special night prayers, imams will recite the complete Qur’an over the whole month.
The month-long curfew also comes ahead Muslims preparations to celebrate one of the two main Islamic religious festivals, `Eid Al-Fitr.
The county police’s decision was condemned by several lawmakers who considered it “unacceptable”.
“Maintaining security in Lamu county is paramount but denying Muslim faithful their religious obligation on this holy month is unacceptable,” Majority Leader in Parliament Aden Dualle tweeted.
Inciting Muslims to defy the curfew, Dualle said “Muslims in Lamu must go to the mosques for the last 10 days of Ramadan despite the curfew.”
“Our religion supersedes curfew orders.”
Freedom of worship
Describing the curfew as a violation of freedom of worship, right groups have warned that they would sue the government over its unconstitutional action.
“The organizations have called for the immediate withdrawal of the curfew and provision of security to allow Muslims to exercise their right to worship in peace,” Haki Africa, Muslim for Human Rights, Human Rights Agenda and Kenya Muslim Women Alliance said in a joint statement.
Muslim residents in other safer parts in Lamu have no idea whether the curfew is applied to their areas or not.
“Our imam has not communicated to us whether the night prayers at our local mosque are still on or not,” Hammad Baghdam, a shop owner on Lamu Island, said.
“The curfew should only have been imposed on Lamu mainland where there have been attacks.”
“And most of the business activities and shopping during the month of Ramadan is done during the night.”
Kenya Muslims have been sensing eradication of their rights after their country was involved in the so-called war on terrorism in East Africa.
Supported by UK and US, Kenya's anti-terror police have been accused of targeting innocent Muslims with arbitrary arrests and disappearances.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, falls this year between Sunday, June 29, and July 28.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer, reading the Noble Qur’an and helping the poor.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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