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Muslim leaders disagree over cleric’s woes

By | January 13th 2010 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Patrick Beja and Cyrus Ombati

Muslim leaders have sharply differed over the detention of controversial Jamaican preacher Abdullah al-Faisal in Nairobi.

The preacher is being held at the Industrial Area Remand Prison, after Nigeria denied him a transit visa.

Chairman of the Islamic Development Group Khalid Njiraini cautioned Muslim groups against defending individuals without establishing their background.

Mr Njiraini said the world was facing security challenges, adding it was necessary for governments to protect citizens from suspect characters.

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"As Muslim leaders, we should not defend people of questionable character. We should allow the Government to act on any suspect as it deems necessary," Njiraini said.

But Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, which first protested at al-Faisal’s arrest in Mombasa on New Year, questioned the detention.

Organising secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa claimed the Government decision to lock up al-Faisal was similar to detentions at the closed down Guantanamo Bay prison.

Rights violation

Khalifa said treating the preacher as a prisoner violated his rights and was against international regulations. He said the US had promised to close down Guantanamo Bay to redeem its international reputation and Kenya should avoid similar moves.

The Muslim leaders spoke as sources indicated al-Faisal had been moved to a more "secure and isolated" room at the Industrial Area Remand Prison.

Authorities told The Standard the cleric would continue to stay there until the Immigration Minister orders otherwise.

"He has been isolated and instructions are that he should not be allowed to talk on phone while in remand," said an officer who asked not to be named.


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