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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Women in Kenyan coastal town protest against Al-Shabab recruitment

Kenyan daily newspaper The Star

April  10, 2011

Hundreds of women in Mombasa [Coast Province] took to the streets protesting the increased cases of youths indulging in drug abuse and joining the Al-Shabab militia group.

Under the auspices of the Kenya Muslim Women Alliance, the women demonstrated from Makadara grounds to the DC's office, where they presented a memorandum on drug abuse and human trafficking.

They now claim that the recruitment, which was being conducted by one imam from a particular mosque, has now extended to five other mosques in the region.

Led by Farida Rashid Tole, some of the women gave harrowing experiences how their sons had been convinced to join Al-Shabab in Somalia, but were later counselled into abandoning the plan. "We are kindly asking the minister for internal security to ensure that no one drops out of school because of going to fight in a war in Somalia that is not halal in the religion as we believe it is not jihad. It is a struggle for power therefore it is terrorism and we are against the killings that happen as a result," Tole said.

The demonstrations come days after the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya raised the alarm over the killing of 10 youths from the Coast who had joined Al-Shabab.

In the memorandum the women said, "There is also the danger of terrorism that through one preacher the youths have been brainwashed and convinced to go and fight in Somalia alongside the Al-Shabab, with some dropping out of schools."

They said the Indian Ocean shore bordering Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia has been the major entry point for drugs, but to date there are no navy patrol boats to impede drug trafficking.

They also complained that since the arrest of a suspect and some youths last year who were heading to Somalia at Kiunga, the security forces have gone silent over the matter. "We would like to know why the government is letting this go yet it is common knowledge that once the youth come back after being trained to fight and make guns, they will cause havoc to our country as it happened in Kikambala, Nairobi and Uganda," Tole said.

The women want the government to tighten security at the borders and the courts to be keen on handing down sentences against drug peddlers and human traffickers.


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