At least two people have been confirmed dead and scores in critical condition in Nairobi, Kenya capital on Friday as anti-riot police engaged Muslim protesters against the detention of a Jamaican Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal. The protest that started at mid-day and still in progress has left an unconfirmed number of protesters, journalists and police officers critically injured. They are admitted in various government hospitals in the capital. Several business premises have been looted and vehicles smashed.
The protesters waving a Somalia Al-Shabaab-linked flag were engaged by police as they tried to hold peaceful protest after prayers at Jamia Mosque along major streets in the capital castigating the government’s move to arrest the cleric. According to eyewitnesses, police presence sparked the protest. The police had earlier warned of the protest terming it as unlawful. Thousands of Muslim youths chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and dared the police to fire live bullets. Police fired teargas canisters to disperse the youth, who in turn pelted the officers with stones. Police riding on horse backs on the ground at one time were cornered by the irate youths prompting air-wing unit to intervene. A foreign journalist was caught up in the melee and was seriously injured. Taxi operators declined to rush him to hospital in fear of attack by the Muslims. At one time, the protesters charged at the journalists.
Observers in Kenya say the war has now switched to Muslims against Christians in the country. “This is now terrible,” a protester said. “We are now fighting the kafirs (non-Muslim believers). They are assisting the police to disperse us.” Last week, Friday, Muslims in Kenya had planned for a demo was addressed by Muslim leaders.Today; police stormed the Mosque with teargas canisters and water canons to flush out protesters who had sought refuge in the mosque. Al-Faisal’s lawyers and rights groups have complained that the cleric is being held without charge. Al-Faisal was seized on New Year’s Eve in Mombasa and is being held by police awaiting deportation. Abdullah al-Faisal, who is on a global terror watch-list and served four years in a British jail for inciting racial hatred, has been in Kenyan custody since last week after the authorities tried and failed to deport him.
At least 5 people have died according to police and media reports but Muslim leaders insist the number is higher. Tension was still high as dusk crept in. Vehicles plying city routes were subjected to a thorough frisking process by police and civilians. Hundreds of Muslims were still stranded at the Jamia Mosque. The Kenyan government has condemned the protest. Muslim leaders have distanced themselves from the protest. Properties and businesses worth thousands of dollars were destroyed.
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