KENYA: Religious Leaders Visit Kibera After Mosque and Church Torched

By Arnold Neliba

KIBERA, MARCH 28, 2023 (CISA)-Religious leaders in Kenya while calling for dialogue between President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have urged politicians to stop aggressive political mobilization aimed at destabilizing national peace and security amid the ongoing demonstrations that have rocked the country in recent weeks.

While on a visit to assess the damages left after a church and mosque were torched in Kibera on Monday, March 27, the clerics under the umbrella body of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) decried how places of worship have become scenes of ugly political contests.

“We start by condemning yesterday’s incidences of attack on the mosque and church. Those were incidences of destruction. Our wish is that the perpetrators repent. We know that the government is supposed to take steps in investigating the incidence and victims, but for us, we dedicate them to God,” said PCEA Moderator Rt Rev Thegu Mutahi flanked by religious leaders from other denominations.

PCEA Emmanuel Center and Masjid A-aqsa Mosque located along Karanja Road in Kibera were on the evening of March 27, attacked and burnt in the melee that ensued in the informal settlement following a day of demonstrations in the capital city Nairobi.

“We do not condemn them, and say they are evil, although we would want that evil that took place to be addressed so that we do not have a repeat of such actions. A lot of property has been destroyed and it will take time to rebuild,” he said calling on the government to bring the perpetrators to book.

Recalling an appeal made by the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) for dialogue between the government and the opposition, the moderator blamed the two sides for the events that led to the burning of the mosque and church.

“We call on his excellencies President William Ruto and the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to have unconditional meetup and discussion to quell political tensions in the country. They must meet and come together and talk. We demand,” he said on behalf of the religious leaders.

On the demonstrations scheduled to take place on Monday and Thursday every week, the clerics have implored the Azimio-One Kenya Alliance to call off the demonstrations and use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to handle their grievances. They further warned religious leaders against being partisan in their engagement with either side of the political divide.

“Religious leaders to fully engage political leaders in a non-partisan way for the good of the country and offer inter-religious support to national leadership,” they said.

The faith leaders also admonished civil society groups to “stop being sucked into political persuasions but retain their position as the dependable nerve centres of good governance, leadership and national security advocacy.”

Monday, March 27, was the second of the Azimio protests, which have been marred by clashes between the police and protesters, destruction of property and general losses as most businesses remained closed in Nairobi.