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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Tensions Remain High in Mombasa, Kenya After Riots

  • Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2013 Oct 08
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Tension remained high in Kenya's port city of Mombasa over the weekend after riots in protest of the murder of a prominent Muslim cleric on Thursday left four dead, about eight injured and on Friday the Majengo Salvation Army Church razed, Open Doors USA reports. It is just over a year since the church suffered a similar attack after the murder of another prominent cleric under similar circumstances. Unknown gunmen sprayed bullets at the vehicle in which Ibrahim "Rogo" Omar and four others drove home after evening prayers at Musa mosque on Thursday. The cleric and three of his passengers died. The motive for the murder is unknown. However, it appears Omar had links with al Shabaab, the group responsible for the four-day siege on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi that left at least 67 people dead in September. Omar was widely believed to have taken over from controversial cleric Aboud Rogo, whose death under similar circumstances in August last year led to several days of violence in Mombasa. The Salvation Army church, along with four other churches, suffered extensive damage then too. "When they burned the church building last year, we incurred damages of over 1.5 million Kenya shillings [approximately $17,500]," said Major Emmanuel Mutepe, head of Majengo Salvation Army Church. "This time the damage is worse." Some victims of Friday's Mombasa riots told local media from their hospital beds that they were singled out on religious grounds. One victim receiving treatment in the hospital for three stab wounds told local media, "I was running away from the chaos when I met a group of the rioters. They demanded to know if I was Muslim or a Christian, but stabbed me as I tried to defend myself." Rev. Lawrence Dena, in reaction to the riots and the razing of the church, made a statement on behalf of a joint forum of Mombasa pastors, saying, "The church has noted with concern the continued targeting of its members and we are putting the government and Muslim leaders to task. We are asking the government and Muslim leaders to explain why Christians are being attacked as witnessed both in the Westgate and Majengo." Kenya is ranked No. 40 on the World Watch List.