Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Islamic Leadership In Kenya

Late in the morning on Monday 27th August 2012, Sheikh Aboud Rogo was driving along a Mombasa highway when another vehicle, which had reportedly been trailing him for a while, pulled up alongside him. The intentions of the occupant or occupants of this other vehicle were apparently not good, and whoever it was, he or they were in possession of genuine, loaded firearms.

And as would happen in a situation whereby an armed person or persons with ill intentions towards another person pulls up alongside the person he or they harbors ill intentions towards, the occupant or occupants of the other vehicle aimed the firearm or  firearms in the general direction of Sheikh Rogo's vehicle and then proceeded to introduce twenty-two bullets into his anatomy.

The outcome, of course, was what you would expect of a person who has just had twenty-two bullets introduced into their anatomy.

Sheikh Rogo was well known at the Kenyan Coast and extremely popular for his fiery rhetoric and radical Islamist ideology. He was also suspected of very serious links to adherents of a very radical brand of Islam, and numerous international anti-terror institutions and operatives had either linked him to or suggested his complicity in some of the most devastating terrorist attacks to have hit Kenya for the past decade.

In other words, Sheikh Rogo wasn't your regular run-in-the-mill benevolent Sheikh urging believers to feed the poor, fast during Ramadhan and pray five times a day. This was the kind of cleric who gave speeches that made young zealous admirers reach for the nearest machete and run off to find themselves an infidel, real or imagined, to behead.

Thus it goes without question that when news of the fiery cleric's interaction with twenty-two bullets reached the ears of his young, zealous admirers, they were bound to experience the kind of emotions that usually result in public gatherings that have police thinking about batons, water hoses, rubber bullets and relevant sections of the Penal Code that deal with unlawful assembly. And experience these emotions Sheikh Rogo's young, zealous admirers did, in levels usually associated with people who have ingested copious amounts of very potent pharmaceuticals.

First, they stormed the murder scene and forcibly took Sheikh Rogo's body from the police who had arrived to launch investigations. Then after they had hastily laid the Sheikh to rest and declared him a martyr, they picked up all manners of projectiles they could lay their hands on and went out with the sole intention of laying to waste any infidel installation insufficiently guarded.

And for the next two days, Mombasa burned.

In the middle of all this, the Muslim leadership in Kenya displayed the kind of leadership you would expect from a six year-old prefect of an unruly nursery school class. Very few notable leaders came forward to condemn the senseless destruction that was rendering Kenya's premier tourist destination inhospitable until the government intervened and asked them to do so, and some of the Muslim commentators who spoke to the press at the height of the insanity seemed to actually give tacit approval to the rioting mobs.

Finally on Wednesday 29th August, there came a semblance of condemnation as leaders from the National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF) called a press conference some four hundred miles away at the Laico Regency in Nairobi to ostensibly call for peace. "This is not a war of Muslims against Christians. It is a war against crime." Convenor and Mvita MP Najib Balala said at the press conference, urging the rioting Muslims not to burn churches.

But if anyone thought this was going to be an all-out rhetoric offensive against the riots, they were sadly mistaken as the Muslim leaders instead tore into the Police Department and other state organs, accusing them of working in concert with the United States in some diabolical design against persons of Islamic persuasion. Disregarding the fact that the forcible removal of Sheikh Rogo's body from the crime scene had guaranteed the irretrievable loss of any forensic evidence that would have helped in establishing the exact nature of his murder, they managed flawlessly managed to dismiss the force as incompetent and compromised while calling on the same force to move quickly and establish who the murderer was.

"We condemn the extra-judicial killing of of Sheikh Rogo. He is entitled to life. He has been taken to court several times and found innocent." Thundered NAMLEF chairman Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi, conveniently forgetting that at the time of his death, Sheikh Rogo was facing charges in a Nairobi court of illegal possession of firearms and involvement in terrorist activity and was actually out on a Ksh5m bail. "We are seeing the hand of the Americans in this, just like they killed Samir Hashim Khan and Mohamed Bekhit Hassan."

"The police should also forthwith stop harassing innocent civilians in Majengo (in Mombasa)" The Muslim leaders added during their press conference, apparently reading mischef into the decision by the police to send anti-riot personnel to areas where rioting was afoot. "Why are they targeting innocent people sitting in their houses?"
Sitting in their houses. Yeah, right.