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Muslim leaders, politicians should provide leadership not fuel hostility

By - | September 2nd 2012

By Kilemi Mwiria

Like most well meaning Kenyans, I am for a full investigation into the death of Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo, if only to end destructive speculation. But I disagree with the National Muslim Leaders Forum (Namlef) and Members of Parliament who have accused the police of executing the fiery Muslim preacher without presenting any evidence to back their claims.

Such rumour mongering, which is aimed at gaining political mileage, has the potential of fueling instability, create a non-existent wedge between Christians and Muslims, and could prejudice ongoing police investigations. If the complaining leaders know more than the police, they should come out with the evidence so that the matter can be put to rest.

But it is improbable that they will do so aware that they are unlikely to be held accountable for making such unsubstantiated inflammatory pronouncements. This irresponsibility is unfortunate given the many Kenyans who look up to them for guidance, as a result of which some youth obey their orders to harm other Kenyans.

Although some politicians have done well to reiterate that this is not a war between Christians and Muslims, the very fact that most victims of the violence are non-Muslim, while Rogo and those speaking on his behalf are Muslim, could create an unwelcome Christian/Muslim divide.

It would have been different if the Muslim MPs had invited their Christian colleagues to issue joint statements or that the Muslim MPs and clergy had come out strongly to condemn attacks of Christian churches by youthful gangs for hire. Nor has it helped that, few if any Christian religious leaders and politicians have come out to condemn the Rogo murder.

The wave of violence we are witnessing across the country, calls for all political and religious leaders to galvanise national unity to stop sponsors of these violent acts from causing more trouble.

While the police carry out investigations, round up known trouble makers and maintain the peace, we should allow the team of professional investigators appointed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, to unravel the truth regarding Rogo’s murder and the ongoing violence quickly enough to forestall further speculation and mistrust among Kenyans.

One also hopes that the American government will intensify her support to government’s efforts to get to the root of the violence and bring to book perpetrators, and not rush to warn American citizens from visiting Kenya for this will only make a bad situation worse.

Irrespective of party and religious affiliation, the political leadership should troop to Mombasa and other hot points to preach peaceful coexistence among Kenyans of all faiths and to tell vulnerable Christian and Muslim youth to desist from violent acts that harm them more than they do their sponsors.

Our youth have to know that these lords of impunity will not be there for them when they are rendered jobless by instability or go to jail after getting into trouble with the law.

In view of the likelihood that some of the perpetrators of violence are known by members of their respective communities, the public can do much to support efforts by the police and political leaders by exposing and ostracising criminal elements, and by initiating peace building efforts of their own.

The writer is MP for Tigania West and Assistant Minister, Ministry for Higher Education, Science and Technology

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