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4 Mombasa mosques to reopen Thursday

Storyline:National News

The four mosques closed by the police last week after being taken over by radical youths are expected to be reopened Thursday.

The Nation has learnt that the decision to reopen Minaa, Sakina, Musa and Swafaa mosques came after two days of talks between top Muslim leaders, professionals and the Mombasa County leadership.

Details of the talks hosted by Governor Hassan Joho and County Commissioner Nelson Marwa have been kept under lock and key.

Before the mosques can be reopened, however, Muslim leaders and professionals will have to appoint a permanent sheikh for each and name a special committee to preside over the mosques in Kisauni and Majengo.

“We don’t want them to feel that the government is undermining them. We have given them time to talk and decide on the mosque committees and the sheikh who will be conducting prayers. They will give us names and by tomorrow the mosques will be opened,” said Mr Marwa, who chairs the county security committee.

Sources said that among those who were invited to the talks were top Islamic leaders, including representatives from the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Kenya National Muslim Advisory Council and the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya.

The mosques were closed last week by security officers after a raid on the Musa Mosque and a swoop in which more than 250 people were rounded up and later charged with being members of a terrorist organization. The police also displayed various weapons and literature last Monday which they said were found in the mosques.

Hours after the arrests, gangs of youths went on the rampage, attacking innocent people at three bus-stops and in some estates in Kisauni sub-county. During the violence, three people were stabbed to death while at least seven others were seriously wounded.

Yesterday, 13 people who were charged last week with being in possession of hand-grenades at Musa and Sakina mosques were taken before court and the police were given one week to complete their investigations.


Muslim leaders in Mombasa and other parts of the country have been calling for the reopening of the mosques, which have been at the centre of controversy over claims that they were being used to radicalise youths and store illegal weapons.

Some of the leaders who attended the two-day talks had suggested that the management of the mosques revert to the committees that were running them before the police raids.

Governor Joho, Senator Hassan Omar, Woman Representative Mishi Mboko, MPs Rashid Bedzimba (Kisauni), Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe) and Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita) were among those who suggested that the mosques be handed over to the committees, with the rider that the government continues to monitor their activities.

Mr Marwa Wednesday said leaders in the county were working together in search of peace and harmony in Mombasa.
“Our core mandate is serving the people and ensuring and maintaining their security. Together with the governor, we will attain it,” he said.

On Sunday, the county’s leaders — including Mr Joho — held consultations with Haki Afrika, a human rights organisation, where it was agreed that the government would reopen the mosques unconditionally and that a taskforce of nine would be picked to run the four mosques and address the thorny question of youth radicalisation, which has been blamed for a spate of attacks that have hit the tourist town ahead of the Christmas holiday.

During the meeting that brought together more than 120 leaders at Royal Castle Hotel in Mombasa, participants unanimously agreed that all the people arrested after the police raid on mosques would be released after screening.

At a news conference last evening, Mr Joho said the mosques will be handed over to community elders.

“We are only facilitators. Residents of those particular areas will manage the mosques. Later, perhaps, with structured programmes, committees will be formed,” he said. With him were Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Muslim leaders who attended the consultations.
He also said “Youths should be disciplined and respect places of worship.’’

Source: Daily Nation