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'I was declared stateless while in Germany'

By Patrick Beja | Jul 7th 2015 | 2 min read
Former Islamic Party of Kenya leader, Khalid Balala explains a point during an interview at his residential house in Bombolulu, Mombasa county. He is one of the politicians who have been fighting for democracy in the country. 5th July 2015. [Photo/Omondi Onyango/Standard]

Salim Khalid Balala, 58, was a preacher and most vocal figure during the Islamic Party of Kenya (IPK)'s struggle for multiparty democracy in Mombasa in 1991.

This is what he had to say: IPK leaders had five meetings with Forum for Restoration of Democracy (Ford) leadership including Bamahriz in 1991 before we led Mombasa residents into the streets.

There were many cowards but I decided to bell the cat because there is fish in the rough seas. I wanted to motivate Muslims into action because they felt marginalised and the Constitution was not followed.

I led protests outside Mwembe Tayari market and talks in mosques as authorities fought us. Unlike common belief, IPK was not a religious party but was instead formed to fight for democratic space and ensure socio-economic justice.

Besides facing treason charges, the worst came when my passport was confiscated at the Kenyan embassy in Germany.

I had gone to London to attend a conference on youth and democracy and later travelled to Germany to meet opposition party leaders. My passport was grabbed from me at the embassy and I was declared stateless in Frankfurt. I got it back after a court battle led by opposition parties.

I stayed in Frankfurt for five years and five months. I am currently in court seeking compensation from the Government. I am living in poverty after my book store in Mombasa collapsed because of the struggle. Kenneth Matiba and Koigi wa Wamwere once visited me in my house in Mombasa. They were among those steadfast in the liberation struggle. I have now joined Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho in a campaign against radicalisation.

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