Heavy police presence in Mombasa as Mosques reopened
Masjid Shuhadaa, Masjid Sakina, Masjid Mina and Masjid Swafaa were on Wednesday handed over after the government wrestled their control from radicalised youths.
The reopening of the mosques was made possible after two weeks of consultative meetings between security officials and Muslim leaders from Mombasa and Nairobi.
Council of Imam and preachers of Kenya, Supreme council of Kenya Muslims, National Muslim leaders Forum and Muslim scholars are among those who chose the elders to be in charge of the four mosques.
The government has however set strict conditions that will ensure the smooth running of the mosques perceived to be the hotbeds of radicalisation.
This is the second time in Kenya’s history that the government has attempted to take over a mosque.
In 1992 the government declared Masjid Sakina a radical haven under Sheikh Abdul Rahman Khitammy and charged the then fiery Mohammed Balala with treason.
However, on Wednesday, county commissioner Nelson Marwa said the government will monitor the mosques.
“No country in the world can watch as places of worship are turned into dens of robbers. We did not take over but stepped in to control criminals,” he said.
Among the policies government intends to implement include a 24-hour police surveillance of the four mosques in Majengo and Mtopanga in Kisauni.
Those funding the mosques will now be vetted under the new conditions set for the reopening of the mosques.
Police sources say wealthy businessmen and politicians are some of the suspects behind funding the takeover of mosques by radicalised youth for political mileage.
The elders are also under strict instructions to reject Jihadist preaching at the mosque. All preachers will now be required to register with the elders before they are allowed to give their address.
All sermons deemed to praise terror groups including al Shabaab, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State have been banned The sermons will be recorded by undercover agents.
Imam Khatib Khamisi a moderate preacher has been selected to head the troubled Masjid Musa and will be assisted by other community elders within Majengo.