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Why many are mum on Rogo

By - | September 10th 2012

By County Weekly Reporter

Muslim Cleric Sheikh Juma Ngao and assistant minister Ali Hassan Joho recently made an extraordinary gesture by attending a church service where they prayed with Christians following the recent violence at the Coast sparked by the killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo.

Mr Ngao heads the Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council, one of the few Muslim organisations that have come out to defend freedom of worship. The organisation is also known for its efforts to defend inter-faith dialogue and sectarian peace.

Mr Joho told the congregation that Islam does not sanction killing or destruction of property.

Radical youths

“The harshest punishment (in the after life) will be reserved for those who kill for only God has the right to take away life,” he said.

On his part, Cleric Ngao warned those who kill and claim they do so for the sake of faith.

“Those who kill in the name of Islam are not true Muslims. There is no Jihad in Somalia,” he clarified, adding that there was no war between Islam and Christianity in Mombasa.

 The two leaders did not speak directly about the late Rogo’s case.

However, from their talks, analysts say they indirectly challenged the radical ideology that the late Rogo propagated, which most moderate Muslim clerics opposed, but could not oppose the late Rogo due to his alleged militant support across the Coast Province.

Lawyer Hassan Omar  Hassan says most of the Muslim preachers were not comfortable with the late Rogo’s teachings, which could be due to the nature of the topics he chose. The topics included the  call to sacrifice, issues of jihad and other historical and topic issues that resonated well with local Muslims.

A Muslim journalist Mr Hassan Kulundu, who comments on the issues affecting the community, says that Sheikh Rogo’s death could have been caused by a legion of “highly radicalised youths who do not have immense knowledge in Koranic teachings” because “Sheikh Rogo selectively interpreted Koran to achieve certain goals”.

The journalist hails the gesture by Mr Joho and Sheikh Ngao, adding that this is what is contemplated in Surat Imraan of the Koran.

“There is a resurgence of  extremist narratives and Muslim leaders must stand up to challenge it in order to restore the true meaning of Islam,” he asserts.

Mr Kulundu believes that in the short term, discussing the late Rogo’s ideology will “remain a taboo’, but in the long run there will be “discussion on the matter”; saying that until recently Muslim leaders have been refusing to discuss the matter of recruitment of Kenyan youths to fight for Al Shabaab in Somalia “until their sons began dying there” the journalist adds.

Many people in Mombasa are not comfortable when drawn into discussing Sheikh Rogo as they wish to leave the matter only to the police.

Two outspoken Imams from two different Islamic organisations pleaded not to be mentioned in connection with Sheikh Rogo’s life at all.

They both expressed fear of courting trouble and wished to remain out of the subject.

Different ideologies

One of the Imams gave us a cellphone contact of the late Rogo’s former close friend, but insisted that it should be kept secret. “I do not want trouble with Rogo sympathizers. They are still out there,” he said.

Even the former friend, when contacted to meet The County Weekly in Majengo for an interview, refused to show up.

From the way clerics refused to discuss the late Rogo’s life, it was clear the man was feared in life and in death.

The devastating riots left an image of a man who could be having solid backing behind the scenes.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Sheikh Mohamed Dor was categorical that discussing Sheikh Rogo could amount to opening up fresh wound among his supporters.

“Things are settling down and as leaders we wouldn’t want to provoke his supporters. Let’s not discuss Sheikh Rogo. Let’s leave it to the investigating team,” Sheikh Dor,  a nominated MP,  said.

A week ago, CIPK national Treasurer Sheikh Hassan Omar  revealed they had differed with the late Rogo’s ideologies.

But he condemned the killing and asked the Government to bring those responsible to justice.

“Although we could not agree with his ideologies we condemn this act of killing,” Sheikh Omar said.

Nevertheless, CIPK South Coast chairman Sheikh Hamisi Banda says the late Rogo appeared to believe in the rule of law as he always attended court for his cases and wondered why he was murdered.

“The good thing is that he was always attending court and we are shocked that someone eliminated him,” Banda noted.

Government protection

Religious leaders in Mombasa have since held peace meetings instead of discussing issues related to the late fiery preacher.

Mombasa Anglican Church (ACK) Bishop Julius Kalu urged religious leaders to pray for peace and harmony.

“We will pray for peace and give the Government a chance to carry out investigations,” Kalu adds.

And as religious leaders avoid digging deeper into secrets of the late Sheikh Rogo, lawyers have different opinions on what could have led to Rogo’s death even when he was facing serious criminal charges.

Mombasa lawyer Mr Yusuf Abubakar says the Government should have offered Sheikh Rogo protection since he had complained that his life was in danger.

He says that the death of Sheikh Rogo exposed the weaknesses of the current law which provides witness protection, but leaves out key suspects like the preacher.

“We have a Witness Protection Act while there is no an Act to protect suspects. The Government ought to have provided him with adequate security particularly after he had complained of his safety,” Abubakar says.

He also argues that Rogo’s killing near Bamburi Police Station indicated that the killers were bold and the fact that the Government did not make any arrest for the killers is baffling.

He says that the Government should now investigate, make the report public and arrest Rogo’s killers and prosecute them.



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