Reasons behind Al-Amin Kimathi’s arrest
Arresting Muslim Shiekh in Kenya( Click on this link to listen to an audio interview between Hassan Isilow and Advocate Al-Amin Kimathi speaking about the arrest of Jamaican cleric arrested in Kenya)
By Hassan Isilow
SPECIAL REPORT- It’s a Wednesday evening September 15, at Entebbe International airport. I find myself inside a fast food store, as I wait for my flight to Johannesburg. I sip a freshly made cup of Arabica coffee,and looking at the screen there is news about Al-Amin Kimathi’s arrest being broadcast live on NTV-Uganda. The first conclusion I make of the arrest, is that Al-Amin will be incarcerated for long, because he has been very critical of counter terrorism policies and operations in the region. Al-Amin Kimathi is Executive Coordinator of the Muslims Human Rights Forum (MHRF) based in Nairobi-Kenya. Prior to his arrest, Al-Amin had documented human rights violations, arbitrary detention and unlawful renditions in the context of counter-terrorism operations in the East and Horn of Africa region. I have never met Al-Amin in person, but I conducted several telephonic radio interviews with him. I must agree that during the interviews, Al-Amin sounded very eloquent and well informed. In fact it would be a mockery for one not to call him an intellectual. So why was Al-Amin Kimathi arrested? Was he a terrorist, a sympathizer or victim of circumstances? Africa Witness digs deeper into Kimathi’s arrest.
In January Al-Amin Kimathi organised a protest march in Nairobi calling for the release of a Jamaican-born Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdullah El-Faisal. The Kenyan anti terrorism police had arrested El-Faisal on New Year’s Eve in Mombasa, after reportedly breaching migration rules. According to migration officials sheikh El-Faisal, was not supposed to preach while on his visit in Kenya, but it was reported that he had breached his visitor’s permit by preaching in some mosques in Mombasa. The Nairobi protest latter turned violent as angry protestors clashed with police. The police fired live bullets at protestors killing a few and injuring a couple of others. Property around the Jamia mosque in Nairobi was also reportedly vandalised. In the eyes of the Kenyan Government, Al-Amin was perceived as an Islamic ‘fundamentalist’ with little national interests. Kimathi was then arrested in mid January to answer charges of inciting violence. Although he was released within a short period of time, the Kenyan Government was still worried of his popularity with in the Nairobi Muslim community. His organisational skills were also considered a great threat owing to the fact that the protest he organised was well attended. Internal security minister George Saitoti quickly apportioned blame on Al-shabaab militants whom he accused of participating in the protest march. Although, Al-shabaab spokesmen denied any involvement, the Kenya police immediately rounded up hundreds of Somali’s including members of parliament. The Nairobi protest surely must have put Al-Amin in bad books with his Government. It wouldn’t be wrong for one to urge that, the Kenyan Government could have ordered their Ugandan counterparts to arrest Al-Amin. The Kenyan Government calculated well by having AL-Amin arrested in Uganda, because the Uganda community is not good at demonstrating besides Uganda is almost a military state. So no one would dare demonstrate in Uganda. I assume, if Al-Amin had been arrested in Kenya, there would have been many demonstrations and he should have been released by now.
It ought to be noted that, Britain and the United States were not happy with Al-Amin when he questioned the arrest of the Jamaican born preacher -sheikh El-faisal. In the western eyes, Al-Amin was viewed as a sympathizer of ‘terrorists’ owing to the fact that sheikh El-Faisal was on the international terror watch list. In 2003, the Jamaican cleric was deported from the United Kingdom after reportedly soliciting for the murder of Jews and none Muslims. He served a seven year jail sentence before being deported. As a human rights activist, the west expected Al-Amin to keep quiet when El-Faisal was arrested in Mombasa on 31 December 2009.
After the Nairobi protests a group of Muslim leaders in the port city of Mombasa quickly disowned both sheikh El-Faisal and Al-Amin. Sheikh Muhdhar Shariff Khitamy, of the Muslim Supreme Council of Kenya warned Muslim youth in Mombasa not to protest the arrest of Sheikh El-Faisal, adding that the Jamaican was not welcome in Kenya and should be immediately deported.” We called this press conference on receiving reliable information that a small group of reckless individuals are planning to cause chaos,” Sheikh Khitamy told a media briefing in Mombasa. Sheikh Khitamy said El-Faisal’s presence in Kenya had brought unnecessary hatred and acrimony. “We have always lived in harmony with the Kenyan government until El-Faisal arrived in our country. We shall not tolerate him.” He told the press conference in mid January 2010.Present at the press conference were several officials of the Kenya Muslims Supreme council, Kenya Assembly of Ulamaa and Imams (Kauli), Moon Sighting Committee, the Muslims Association, among others. So could there be a possibility that, some Kenyan Muslims leaders sold out to get AL-Amin arrested in Uganda??????
Disclaimer: views expressed on this blog, do not represent those of my family or friends.