Muslim Human Rights Forum calls for an independent inquiry into the causes of the extreme violence at Masjid Musa and other places and the putting in place of civil and legally acceptable measures of detecting and dealing with manifestations of violent extremism from any quarter be they religious or secular, state or non-state actors
The Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) is hereby expressing deep shock and dismay over the violence and bloodletting witnessed inside and around Masjid Musa Mosque in Majengo, Mombasa in the beginning of this week.
We are saddened that so far six lives have so needlessly been lost. We fear the death toll may rise as many people who were critically injured are admitted in hospitals most of them nursing gunshot wounds and two police officers stabbed during the incident. At least one hundred and twenty nine (129) people have been arrested. Most of them are youth and minors, some as young as 12 years of age.
It is our well considered view that the force employed by the Police was by any measure excessive and totally unnecessary. Indeed we are convinced that there were less violent options available for the police to stop or, in the alternative, to dispatch the gathering. Though provoked, the extreme reaction by those youth who resorted to brutally killing and critically injuring police officers are, similarly, unacceptable. For this we condemn unreservedly the violence and lawlessness by both the police and the youth.
We are particularly worried by the import of this most recent in a string of similar violent incidents centered around the same Mosque to the already worsening situation in further growing violent extremism and defeating counter-terrorism efforts. We aver that use of excessive force by the security organs only fuels the embers of terrorism. Through such acts of unnecessary violence they fall prey to terrorist propaganda and unwittingly abet the radicalization and terrorist recruitment processes.
Shouldn’t the consequences, both in the immediate and long term, and the implications they have to the country’s peace and security be taken into consideration before mounting any operation?
This recent incident defies reason and begs many questions in the gathering and usage of intelligence. For instance the Police, having advance knowledge of the planned gathering, did not employ any pre-emptive measures. Why did the police choose instead to invade the Mosque - and in the most contemptuous manner - when it was full of charged youngsters and while there were even minors from a nearby madrasa having a meal inside there? Why didn’t they cordon off the area early enough before it had become so crowded? Why wait till the afternoon, after prayers, when other worshippers besides those participating in the questionable function were bound to be present? Is the investigative capacity of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit so weak to detect, track and apprehend those who incite, radicalize or give inflammatory sermons that the only way to deal with such a situation is to so violently storm the Mosque? Why have the police not charged the alleged errant preachers in accordance with the law?
The MHRF wishes to remind the security organs that they are obligated under the Constitution of Kenya, relevant national and international laws to strictly uphold the human rights of all while executing their tasks of maintaining law and order and to use only that amount of force that is necessary relative to any situation and which is permissible by law. Again it is our contention that the force employed here was far in excess of that which the law allows.
In the premises we demand that the government:
1. Releases children and minors and unsuspecting members of the public caught in the fracas in the course of their day to day chores
2. Protect the rights of residents in Majengo and worshippers at the Masjid Musa from violence by radical elements and from state and non-state actors
3. Brings to account the perpetrators of the violence be they members of the security organs or the public who were behind the killings, injuries and destruction of the Mosque and private property.
4. Commits to and opens channels of dialogue and engagements with all concerned to stamp out the dangerous growth of violent extremism in the society.
Acknowledging and disturbed by the threat to peace and security posed by the dangerous phenomenon of violent extremism, we call on the government to commission an independent inquiry into the causes of the extreme violence at Masjid Musa and other places and put in place civil and legally acceptable measures of detecting and dealing with manifestations of violent extremism from any quarter be they religious or secular, state or non-state actors.
We also appeal to the public, particularly the youth, to observe and adhere to the laid down laws, and employ peaceable methods of settlement of grievances through dialogue and engagement based on respect for the sanctity of life and preservation of peace.
For Muslim Human Rights Forum