Friday, January 19, 2007

Kenyan Muslims protest harassment over Somalia

Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:33pm ET
By David Mageria and Jeremy Clarke

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Carrying anti-Bush and anti-Ethiopia placards, hundreds of Kenyan Muslims rallied on Friday to accuse authorities of unfair arrests and increased harassment due to the crisis in neighboring Somalia.

At a peaceful meeting after Friday prayers outside Nairobi's main mosque, the protesters said Kenya was currying favor with Washington by cracking down on Muslims suspected of sympathy toward or links with Somalia's ousted Islamists.

"Every Kenyan Muslim is an Islamist. We are not apologetic about it, we are not begging, we were born Muslims, Islam is our religion," said Abdullahi Abdi, the chairman of National

Muslim Leaders Forum. "The message is clear, we are being pushed to the wall, we are under siege and we must stand up for our rights."

Placards read: "Satan is embodied in Bush!", "Due process, not bombs",

"Kenya stop aiding U.S./Ethiopia terrorism."

One of the organizers, Alamin Kimathi, said: "Today we are sad and very angry ... We have turned into a country which is given orders by the U.S. on what to do."

Muslim leaders said Kenya had shown a lack of consistency because it had regularly invited the Somali Islamists to Nairobi for dialogue and then treated them as terrorists.

"Without any reason, it has changed its policy on Somalia ... instead of pursuing dialogue it has now decided to attack Somalia," said Billow Kerrow, a Muslim member of parliament, referring to Kenya's deployment of troops around its border.

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