Nairobi — A government circular requiring persons of Asian or Arabic descent professing Islam to be vetted before being issued with national identity cards has been challenged in court.
Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) said the confidential circular issued to all district commissioners by the registrar of persons requiring additional proof that they are Kenyans is unconstitutional.
The organisation said it is discriminatory on the basis of religion, race and place of origin.
Muhuri and former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights commissioner Khelef Khalifa challenged the circular through a petition filed at the High Court in Mombasa on Thursday and sought orders to declare it unconstitutional.
Muhuri executive director Hussein Khalid said he received a complaint from Mr Khalifa that his son, Abdulhaleem El-Busaidy, could not get a national identity because he had failed to provide birth certificates of his grandfather.
Mr Khalid said that when he enquired, he was informed that the divisional officers and chiefs in Muslim-dominated areas had received the confidential memo that directed them to ask from Muslims, Asian and Arabs for additional documentation, including national identity cards of their grandparents, to qualify for ID cards.
Mr Khalid said his office had received similar complaints but had not challenged the new rule since the new Constitution outlawed such treatment of its citizens.