Parallel Maulid feasts ordered as trustees fight over mosque

Muslim leaders follow court proceedings in Malindi yesterday /ALPHOCE GARI
Muslim leaders follow court proceedings in Malindi yesterday /ALPHOCE GARI

Trustees of Riadha Mosque in Lamu have been allowed to proceed with Maulid Festival which begins today and ends on Friday.

The High Court in Malindi yesterday dismissed an application to stop the celebrations.

Justice Weldon Korir directed the two warring parties to hold parallel celebrations under close watch by police to avoid conflicts.

Korir issued the order after hearing submissions from both applicants and defendants in the matter which had been certified urgent.

Swaleh Mohamed Sayyid Ali and Abdulkhadir Mohamed Sayyid Aly filed a notice on November 27 to stop Muhsin Sayyed Ali Badawy from holding the celebrations until their dispute was heard.

They wanted the trustees stopped from using Mkunguni Square to hold the celebrations.

The case was filed at the Garsen law courts. The two wanted Badawy and his agents barred from organising, advertising or conducting Maulid celebrations in form of prayers, cultural events and religious processions between December 4 and 7 at Mkunguni Square and all over Amu Island pending determination of the case.

Justice Korir said the case ought to have been filed at the Lands and Environmental Court because it touched on land matters.

“The court has no jurisdictions. Other issues left to be addressed during the main hearing. I agree with the respondents that the application was filed in the last minute ahead of Maulid celebrations. This is a case that requires a full hearing,” Korir said.

The court said it had to be cautious in stopping people from holding the religious festival because it could bring more damage.

“I decline to issue a temporary injunction as prayed by the applicants. I have no doubt security organs are up to the task,” Korir said.

The applicants lawyer Eliud Nyongesa said the case did not fall under Lands and Environment Court because it was about Maulid celebrations.

Nyongesa said they only wanted the trustees stopped from holding the celebrations.

He said Badawy registered the mosque to his name without consulting other trustees. He then admitted foreign students, a move that damaged the reputation of the mosque, Nyongesa said.

“The move is an act of revenge he is intending to use to disrupt the celebrations,” Nyongesa said.

Defence lawyer Leonard Shimaka said the event was meant to commemorate the birth of Prophet Mohammed and is done all over the world in accordance with Islamic faith.

“In Lamu, it’s a special case because it’s assumed that Islam in Kenya began in Lamu,” Shimaka said.

Shimaka asked the court to dismiss the application with costs, saying the matter ought to have been handled by the Lands and Environment Court. He said the suit was incompetent.

“The court doesn’t have jurisdiction to entertain the matter before it,” he said.

The matter will be heard at the Garsen court after the celebrations end.