Islamic radicalism hits ancient city of Mombasa

first_imgThere are worries that the rise of extremism here will upset the tradition of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims and will hurt this city’s important tourism industry.Youths who were protesting Mohammed’s death ignored calls by their local imams, or preachers, to stop the violence, said Hashim Kamau, National Youth Chairman for the Supreme Council of Muslims in Kenya. Kamau said in an interview that he was sent from Nairobi to calm the youths.Human rights campaigners say it is the Kenyan government’s harsh counterterrorism measures that are pushing Muslim youths toward extremism. Last week’s riots were a culmination of anger building up against the Nairobi government because of the killings and disappearances of five Muslim figures, they say.“This is a society that has been victim of the government’s counterterrorism measures,” Hassan said. “We have Gestapo kinds of raids in this town. We have had a total flotation of the constitution, sheer disrespect and carelessness on the part of the police officers on how they deal with the sensitivities of the Muslim community and profiling.”Many young Muslims are furious about the disappearance or killing of Islamic leaders, which they blame on the police, Hassan said. Mohammed’s teachings appealed to the youth, Hassan said, because of their growing sense of frustration about issues like poverty and lack of opportunity. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Top Stories Few have any illusion that the assassination of Mohammed removes the threat of Islamic radicalism in this city. Others are tapping into the anger felt by many here.Abubaker Shariff Ahmed was a close friend of Mohammed’s, and like him, is a hardline Mombasa imam. Police on Monday charged him with inciting the violence that followed Mohammed’s death.“All imams who cooperate with the government should be slaughtered, and any police officer who is seen should be slaughtered,” words Ahmed allegedly said at the Masjid Mosque to rally Mohammed’s supporters into violence, according to prosecutors.Like Mohammed, Ahmed was subjected to a travel ban and asset freeze by the U.N. Security Council and the United States for supporting al-Shabab.He is in police custody awaiting a bail hearing.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “It was at that point that I started to hear Mohammed, after imprisonment, becoming more and more audacious. It appears when he was imprisoned he overcame the fear of adversity,” Hassan said. “He started preaching on international jihad, and subscribed broad ideologies of jihad.”Police said Mohammed had belonged to a terror cell affiliated with al-Shabab that was planning to bomb Kenyan targets over Christmas. Al-Shabab is an Islamist insurgent group in Somalia that has executed people by stoning and chopped off limbs of suspected thieves. Kenyan troops are among the African Union forces backing the Somali government, and are on the verge of attacking al-Shabab’s last stronghold, the Somali seaside city of Kismayo.Mohammed’s death exposed and exacerbated a schism between the Muslim faithful in Mombasa, which boasts an architectural mix of mosques and minarets from Arab traders, British colonial-style buildings and more recently built high-rises. The mix of disparate cultural influences is evident in the clothing people wear here, from Arab-style robes, hijab headscarves and burqas to hip-hop style outfits complete with sagging jeans, short skirts and tights. Sheik Juma Ngao, a local Muslim cleric and the Chairman of the National Muslim Advisory Council of Kenya, said the extremism has been boosted by the conflict in Somalia.Mohammed tried steer recruits toward al-Shabab, according to a U.N. report. Mohammed was a key ideologue behind the al-Shabab support network in Kenya. The U.N. report describes Mohamed as an extremist who advocated the violent overthrow of the Kenyan state and was an outspoken supporter of al-Shabab.The rioting here ended a week ago but Kenya’s second-largest city and tourism center remains tense. Armed police patrol the streets. Some of Mombasa’s Muslims, who make up the majority in this port city of nearly 1 million, say they are still angry about the killing of Mohammed.“In the course of religion we are not afraid to die because at the end every Muslim will die. Every human being will die. If you die because of religion you are going to paradise, so we are not afraid to die,” said Abdulahi Awal, 40, who was prepared to demonstrate after prayers last Friday at Masjid Musa mosque. He said many others felt as he did. But hundreds of heavily armed police officers surrounded the Mosque and forced the group of worshippers to go home before the planned protests gained momentum. Sponsored Stories last_img