Idris spoke his mind without fear

People carry the coffin moderate Muslim cleric Mohamed Idris (inset) during the funeral ceremony on June 10, 2014 in Mombasa. Sheikh Mohamed Idris, who was gunned down on Tuesday in cold blood at his gate in Likoni, Mombasa, was a preacher, who spoke his mind without fear. AFP/PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • He preached peaceful means of resolving grievances by Muslims and organised numerous forums with donor support to discuss different issues.
  • The radical youths, believed to be from Masjid Musa of Majengo, were associated with the attacks at different mosques in Mombasa Town and surrounding areas.
  • In the recent past, there have been systematic killing of people suspected to be against terrorist activities at the Coast, instilling fear among those working with the authorities in the campaign.

Sheikh Mohamed Idris, who was gunned down on Tuesday in cold blood at his gate in Likoni, Mombasa, was a preacher, who spoke his mind without fear.

He was among the religious leaders, who campaigned against radicalisation of youths, and at one point called for the arrest and prosecution of Muslim religious teachers or imams preaching extremism in mosques in Coast.

He preached peaceful means of resolving grievances by Muslims and organised numerous forums with donor support to discuss different issues.

In December last year, Sheikh Idris, who was chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), and his counterpart Mohamed Khalifa narrowly escaped an attack  by more than 100 youths at the Sakina Mosque — the third such attack in less than three weeks.

POLITICAL ACTIVIST

Tension gripped most Mombasa mosques after youths associated with the Somali-based Al-Shabaab terrorist group attacked clerics and took over places of worship at will.

This resulted in Imams and preachers at more than 600 mosques in the Coast saying they were living in fear.

The radical youths, believed to be from Masjid Musa of Majengo, were associated with the attacks at different mosques in Mombasa Town and surrounding areas.

Yesterday Sheikh Khalifa, a member of CIPK, described Sheikh Idris as a fearless Muslim preacher, scholar and philanthropist.

“His religious career spans more than 35 years since he was installed as the Imam of Sakina in 1979 by then Chief Kadhi Sheikh Abdalla Saleh Alfarsi,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

Sheikh Idris was not only a consummate Muslim cleric but also a hardened political activist who was among Muslim religious leaders who teamed up with the then fiery preacher Sheikh Balala in the early 1990s to launch the unregistered Ismalic Party of Kenya that agitated for Muslim rights in Coast.

Sheikh Idris and other imams led by Sheikh Balala galvanised the entire Coast against President Moi’s Kanu regime by rallying Muslims to support calls for the introduction of multi-party politics by the then Forum for Restoration of Democracy (Ford) led by the doyen of opposition politics Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

They made Mombasa town and other parts of coast ungovernable by mobilising residents to participate in anti-government protests and processions.

Just ahead of the 2007 General Election, Sheikh Idris plunged into political activities in the country when he led his CIPK and other Muslim bodies in supporting Mr Raila Odinga’s ODM against Mr Kibaki’s PNU.

SYSTEMATIC KILLINGS

Sheikh Idris was to later survive a serious road accident on the eve of the 2007 elections while campaigning for ODM in Tana River and Lamu counties.

He was re-elected in absentia as CIPK chairman while recuperating.

In the recent past, there have been systematic killing of people suspected to be against terrorist activities at the Coast, instilling fear among those working with the authorities in the campaign.

Mr Faiz Mohamed Bwarusi, a madrassa tutor and father of two, was found beheaded on December 4.

In January, Mr Ahmed Bakhshwein, who has been described as a top spy for counter-terrorism agencies, was shot dead in the streets of Malindi by gunmen on a motorbike.

Mr Mohammed Salim Aliyan, an alleged police informer, was also killed recently by unknown gunmen outside his house in Malindi.

CHRONOLOGY

Mosques under siege

Dec 3: Twenty to 30 youths invaded Masjid Umar Ibn Khatwab at Soko Mjinga Village in Kisauni area, ejected the imam and installed their own preacher to conduct the magharib prayers.

Dec 4, 2013: Tension gripped Mombasa mosques after youths associated with terrorist groups attacked clerics and took over places of worship.

Dec 7, 2013: Sheikh Idris was among imams who said they were living in fear following attacks by radical Muslim youths.

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