Tag Archives: Islam

In S. Sudan, churches struggle to keep role as trusted peacemakers

Wearing an immaculate white cassock, Catholic Bishop Paride Taban strides through the mud and tents of the Jebel displaced persons camp in South Sudan’s capital Juba on a recent Sunday.

The camp is hardly sacred ground: thousands of ethnic Nuer live here under United Nations peacekeeper protection in fear of Dinka soldiers outside. But Bishop Taban is here to conduct mass anyway.

“The church is to be with the suffering people, wherever in the world,” the 78-year-old bishop says. Read more…

Photo: Catholic Archbishop Bishop Paride Taban leads mass on November 9 in an airplane hangar at the UN’s Jebel displaced person’s camp outside Juba where thousands of ethnic Nuer have taken shelter from the war. By Jason Patinkin

In Kenya, islanders on heritage site count cost of $25 billion mega-project

Lamu Island on Kenya’s northeast coast was established some 700 years ago as part of a thriving Indian Ocean trade network that eventually stretched to Oman, India, Portugal, and China.

The mixing of those cultures produced the Swahili people and language, as well as an Islamic renaissance of architecture, poetry, and cuisine.

Lamu is regarded as the best preserved Swahili settlement in existence. The history, the remote white beaches, the carved wooden doorways, and the winding alleys, all make it a top Kenya tourist destination.

But change is coming – more drastic than any in Lamu’s history – that could irreversibly transform this ancient place. Read more…

Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

How Kenya’s ‘war on terror’ disrupts a thriving Nairobi district

 

Shoppers stroll First Avenue in Eastleigh, a neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya, also known as ‘Little Mogadishu’ because it is home to immigrants from Somalia. Jason Patinkin

Eastleigh, a mass of crowds and color in the heart of Kenya’s capital, is like no other neighborhood in Nairobi.

Nicknamed “Little Mogadishu,” it has bloomed in the past decade into one of East Africa’s most vibrant commercial centers, built mostly by refugees from Somalia who came here after that country collapsed in the 1990s.

While Eastleigh is jammed with refugees from the Horn of Africa, it is no Nairobi ghetto: Bulk imports of textiles, car parts, electronics, and veterinary supplies – often tax free – come here from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and are sold to merchants who trek in from all over East and Central Africa.
Moreover, at the muezzin’s dusk call to prayer, people don’t retreat to homes behind razor-wire-topped walls, the way much of Nairobi’s population does each evening.

Instead, the place bustles. Eastleigh residents shop at night markets or sip camel-milk tea in sidewalk cafes, where one is more likely to hear Somali or Arabic than Swahili or English, Kenya’s national languages.

Yet in recent months, this sometime paradise for refugees has become hostile to outsiders. As Kenya cracks down on Al Shabab terrorists from Somalia following a devastating attack on the posh Nairobi Westgate mall last fall, Eastleigh residents are caught in the middle. Just as Little Mogadishu and its new glass-and-concrete high-rises are gaining a reputation as a story of progress and success, a cosmopolitan haven on the Horn, many refugees and immigrants are suddenly leaving.  Read more…

Worst since Westgate: New Al Shabab attack stirs Kenyan security doubts

A man observes the remains of destroyed vehicles and buildings in the town of Mpeketoni, about 60 miles from the Somali border on the coast of Kenya Monday. AP

Gunmen belonging to the Somali extremist group Al Shabab killed at least 48 people in a seven-hour rampage through a Kenyan coastal town late Sunday night, leaving many Kenyans wondering whether their government is capable of protecting them from terrorists.  Read more…

Assassination of cleric ‘Makaburi’ puts Kenya on edge

'Living on borrowed time,' Muslim leader in Kenya told AP months before he was shot dead

In this Tuesday Oct. 29, 2013 file photo, Abubakar Shariff Ahmedsits in his office in Mombasa, Kenya. AP Photo/Jason Straziuso, File

Nairobi, KenyaKenya’s most prominent radical Muslim was gunned down Tuesday night near the coastal city of Mombasa amid escalating violence between government security forces and Muslim youths – raising fears of retaliation and further tension.

Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, an avowed jihadist known popularly as Makaburi, which means graveyard in Swahili, was shot dead at 6:30 p.m. outside a prison where he reported for a scheduled court appearance. Mr. Ahmed is the sixth and highest-profile Muslim cleric to be killed in suspicious circumstances on Kenya’s coast in the past few years. He was under sanctions from the UN Security Council that included a travel ban and an asset freeze for allegedly supporting terrorism.

The killing of Ahmed comes as the government has moved to curb or even preempt terrorism through round-ups and crackdowns. It adds to what seems a circular or “tit-for-tat” reaction in recent weeks between security forces and Muslims and ethnic Somalis.   Read more…

Will Kenya mosque assault radicalize Muslim youths?

A boy, who was with fellow Muslims detained by police from a raid at the Musa mosque, climb in a cell as the men wait to be arraigned at a court in Shanzu, a coastal town of Mombasa February 3, 2014.  Joseph Okanga/Reuter

Early this month more than 100 young Muslims in this port city gathered at the Musa Mosque for what was billed as a regional Islamic conference. The meeting had been banned by police, who say the mosque has ties to the Somali militant group Al Shabab. But the organizers went ahead anyway.

By early afternoon on Feb. 2, Musa was full of people, including dozens of neighborhood children drawn by a free lunch.

What followed next is unclear:  Police say they tried to arrest mosque leaders and came under gunfire.  Muslim activists say the police stormed the mosque unprovoked.

However it started, police stormed the religious structure with boots on and began firing tear gas and live bullets at youth, some of whom fought back with knives. After a melee that captured national attention, police arrested 129 people, including 21 minors, some only 12 years old.  Dozens were injured, and rioting continued for days as wounded succumbed to injuries.  By Feb. 6, seven Muslims and one police officer lay dead.  Read more…

In Kenya’s Muslim port: A tale of two mosques

A police officer removes a flag hanged by Muslim youths at Musa Mosque in the coastal town of Mombasa February 2, 2014. Joseph Okanga/Reuters

Mombasa, Kenya Kenya’s new “war on terror,” inaugurated after radical jihadis attacked a swanky Nairobi shopping mall last fall, has rocked the nation, the Muslim community, and the nation’s security forces.

Since then a major police and military focus has been on the coastal city of Mombasa, and on its gritty working-class district called Majengo that features open-air welders and tin-roofed auto shops.  Read more…