MOMBASA – Using the stretched term of war on terrorism, Kenyan police has been attacking mosques, arresting scores of young Muslims and scholars in what many analysts warned as driving the country’s Muslim minority to radicalization.
“The excesses of the counter-terrorism police are pushing Muslims to the extremes,” Al-Amin Kimathi, director of the Muslim Human Rights Forum in Mombasa, told Christian Science Monitor.
“It’s making those ones already angry more angry, and sucking in many others.”
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Kenya Muslims have been sensing eradication of their rights following Wetgate mall attack in which more than 60 people were killed which was claimed by Somalia's militant al Shabaab group.
Though the attack was immediately condemned by leaders of the Muslim community, they have fallen victims of frequent police raids.
The Kenyan police crackdown on Muslim has extended to mosques when security forces raided Musa mosque in Mombasa's Majengo, arresting about 130 people and killing a number of people.
Sparking anger among Muslim youth, the Kenyan authorities has announced plans to close two mosques in Mombasa.
The unjustified attacks were criticized by analysts as fueling anti-Muslim sentiments in the society as well as crippling Muslims’ efforts to eradicate radicalism.
“What we saw post-Westgate is that the terrorism units in Kenya are becoming more proactive in what they do and it’s bordering on repression,” said Ray Cummings, a defense analyst based in South Africa with the international risk management firm, Red24.
Formed to counter terrorism, the US-backed to Kenya’s Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) has drawn ire form the Muslim minority after being linked to repeated attacks against innocent Muslims and soaring repression.
ATPU's excessive repression is believed to be inciting extremism among the Muslim youth.
Last November, American and Kenyan human rights groups have released a report accusing Kenyan counter-terrorism officers of carrying out extra-judicial killings, abuses and torture for Muslims in the east African country under allegations of being members of al-Shabaab group.
Deprived form education and bogged down in poverty, scores of impoverished Kenyan Muslim youth were complaining from being marginalized by the authorities.
“There’s lack of education and lack of proper communication with these [young] people,” Salim Ghalgan, who runs a hospital and youth education program behind Musa Mosque for Majengo’s youth, said.
“In the skirmishes, [the] majority of the youth were there for food…They don’t realize they will become victims.”
The counterproductive polices of the Kenyan government has shattered the dreams of hundreds of Muslim youth.
“They can arrest some innocent youths without even interrogating?” asked resident Amina Salim, in her 20s, who wanted to join the police service, until her brother was arrested at Musa.
“I don’t want to become that,” Salim stressed.
The repeated police raids on the Muslim community were endorsed by the majority of Christian population who considered them as “the right thing to do”.
“Once the police arrest some of their members they become more aggressive, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” says Anne Sammy, who attends Majengo’s Salvation Army Church,
“As long as they are free they are doing those [violent] things,” Sammy added.
However, other Christians believe that armed crackdowns on the Muslim minority “may not work”, calling for more understating along with proper communication.
“If we go by what has been happening elsewhere, in Somalia…the leaders are eliminated but [it] has not stopped violent extremism,” says Emmanuel Kisiangani, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies.
“Military operation will not solve the problem by itself.”
It is estimated that there are at least 10 million Muslims in Kenya out of the total 40 million, most of whom live in the coastal and North Eastern parts of the country.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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