9 July 2012

Kenya: Mombasa Hopeful Fears New Bill Is Anti-Muslims

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Mosque in Nairobi: Muslim leaders have vowed to oppose an anti-terror bill unless certain amendments are made to safeguard human rights.

A hopeful for the Mombasa governor's seat has slammed the proposed anti-terror bill. Suleiman Shahabal said the bill may infringe on the freedoms of Kenyans. Shahabal further said the proposed bill is unfairly targeting the Muslim minority. The bill has not been completed by the Justice ministry.

It has however become a subject of the public debate with activists, politicians and Muslim leaders expressing concerns over its contents "Let us not end up setting an anti-terrorism bill and in the process kill the constitutional right of Kenyans. We don't have an issue with the anti-terrorism bill, but it must respect the existing rights of all Kenyan citizens," said Shahbal. "The bill must not be used against Muslims because there is a presumption that all Muslims automatically are more inclined to terrorism, which we reject."

The bill has attracted sharp criticisms from the Muslim community, with the Council of Imams and Muslim Preachers of Kenya strongly opposing it. An earlier draft of the bill released to the public proposes that people involved in terrorist attacks be jailed for life, and their properties seized to compensate the victims. Shahbal further said the US government was hurting Kenya's economy through constant travel advisories.

The US recently issued a travel advisory warning its citizens to avoid Mombasa. It has however lifted the travel ban. "It is wrong to say that the Kenyan situation is worse; there are other nations with more terrorism activities and other forms of crimes than Kenya. It is wrong for US to announce that Kenya is faced by terrorism activities. This is really hurting our economy," he said. Shahbal spoke when he officially launched the Suleiman Shahbal Super Cup that will see two teams picked from all the constituencies to travel the United Arab Emirates for a talent search.

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