Jihad Threatened If Muslim Demands Are Not Met

30 April 2003

Muslim leaders in Kenya are threatening armed conflict if the new Kenyan 
constitution does not enshrine Islamic courts (known in Kenya as Kadhi courts).

Proposals in the Draft Constitution to widen the scope and power of the Kadhi 
courts have been described as discriminatory by the General Secretary for the 
National Council of Churches of Kenya. He has called for the new constitution to 
be free from all matters touching on religion. 

General Secretary Rev Mutava Musyimi said that the proposals “are discriminative 
in nature as they seek to elevate Islamic religious courts, which serve one 
religious sector…Let us be consistent to what the draft constitution says. We 
are saying delete everything on religion, provide for equality of religions in 
the constitution, and if you want now to have specific provisions for specific 
faith communities, that should be provided by statutes of parliament, by normal 
legislation, not by the constitution”.

Muslim clerics, led by Sheikh Ali Bin Mayaka of the Eldoret mosque, responded, 
“We should try to mobilise Muslims countrywide for Jihad if anyone will try to 
intimidate us and provoke our religion...We shall fight up to the end with all 
ways to retain Kadhi courts in the constitution even if it means to seek help 
from our fellows around the globe.” The chairman of The Council of Imams and 
Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), Sheikh Ali Shee, threatened that Muslims in coastal 
and north-eastern provinces would break away if there was no provision of the 
courts in the new constitution. In order to oppose any attempt to remove such 
provision from the Draft Constitution, CIPK, The Supreme Council of Kenya 
Muslims (SUPKEM) and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) issued a joint statement 
calling for demonstrations on Friday 25 April after noon prayers [East African 
Standard, Nairobi, April 24].

SUPKEM and the Muslim Consultative Council have both withdrawn from Ufungamano, 
a large inter-faith initiative pressing for constitutional reform. Ufungamano 
described this move as sad, but the Hindu Consultative Council saw it as 
“blackmail” and claimed it showed that the Muslim delegation were not “patient 
or tolerant” of differing opinions.

Many Christians fear that the new proposals for Kadhi courts are a major step in 
the direction of introducing full Shari’ah (Islamic law) in Kenya.  They also 
believe that these proposals will undermine the basic constitutional principle 
of the equality before the law of all Kenyan citizens, irrespective of religion.

However it is not just the church which is expressing concern over the Draft 
Constitution. At a meeting of MPs cabinet minister Martha Karua said that if the 
courts were made part of the constitution then the country risked being seen as 
having adopted Shari’ah. She also warned that any extension of the jurisdiction 
of the Kadhi courts into the proposed areas of commercial and civil disputes was 
a dangerous step towards blurring the division between state and religious laws.
The courts currently only have jurisdiction over strictly domestic and familial 
affairs and can be overruled by the secular Supreme Court of Kenya; the Draft 
seeks to make the courts accountable to the secular judicial system only where 
constitutional matters are involved.

Pray that the proposals to extend the power of Kadhi Courts will be withdrawn 
from the new constitution when it is finally implemented.

Pray that there will continue to be peaceful and harmonious relationships 
between Christians and Muslims in Kenya.

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