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Muslim youth extremism out of hand, warn leaders

By By PHILIP MWAKIO | Updated Tue, December 24th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3

By PHILIP MWAKIO

MOMBASA, KENYA: Muslim leaders in Mombasa have conceded that youths are becoming militant islamists but blamed this on poverty and alleged marginalisation of the region.

They said all Kenyans should participate in holistic efforts to combat radicalisation.

Several mosques in Mombasa have been taken over by militant youths who swept away moderate imams accusing them of apostasy and links with the Government.

The targeted moderates blame the radicalisation on the followers of slain radical islamist Sheikh Aboud Rogo and jihadist returnees from Somalia.

The Secretary General of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Sheikh Mohamed Dor declined to discuss this matter.

Going to extremes

Mombasa County Senator Hassan Omar said yesterday there is need to take responsibility as a society. “This problem is more of a social and security problem and no amount of force can help bring it to an end,” he said.

He was speaking during a one-day public lecture on Human Rights and De-radicalisation organised by Haki Africa.

Omar said while the Government is keen to stop the issue, the law cannot be obligated to justify extra judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and all forms of intimidation.

Haki Africa Board Chairman Munir Mazrui conceded that radicalisation has been on the rise with cases of youth going to extremes and taking justice matters into their own hands.

“We have witnessed youths taking to the street to protest killings but also to harm innocent people in the process,” he said. “In extreme cases, youth have been recruited to join the Al Shabaab militia in Somalia and get trained and return back to Kenya to work with radical elements.”

He said at the recently established School of Human Rights under Haki Africa, they believe that human rights violations and radicalisation would end.

Mazrui said Haki Africa had seen the need to organise and promote dialogue between different actors to deal with the problem. 

Clerics’ killings

“We believe that only dialogue, commitment to human rights principles and partnerships will be able to resolve the problems affecting our society,” he said.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, whose area has had its fair share of skirmishes arising as a result of Muslim clerics’ killings by police said tolerance and perseverance form the hallmark of a just society. “We need each other. The Government on one side cannot operate in isolation and the people it oversees or govern too have a role to ensure they observe the rules of the land,” he said.

And Mombasa County Woman Representative Mishi Mboko said there is more that needs to be done to ensure the poor and underprivileged get justice.

She condemned the Government’s attempts to amend the police Act to activate the shoot-to-kill order.