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September 19, 2017

Inter-religious Council condemns attack on women's meeting in Kisumu

Youths in Kisumu protest at the gate of Jumuia hotel where they accused a church group of buying IDS ahead of the election, September 13, 2017. /FAITH MATETE
Youths in Kisumu protest at the gate of Jumuia hotel where they accused a church group of buying IDS ahead of the election, September 13, 2017. /FAITH MATETE

The Inter-religious Council of Kenya has condemned Wednesday’s violent disruption of a meeting by the Kisumu Women of Faith Network by rowdy youth.

Executive director Francis Kuria said the attack on a "peaceful non-political meeting was cowardly, wicked and cruel" and must be condemned by peace loving Kenyans.

“It is unacceptable and vile to attack defenseless women under the guise of political activism and thuggery,” Kuria said in a statement.

Rowdy youth stormed a hotel in the lakeside city where the more than 200 women had gathered and disrupted their meeting.

They claimed they were buying national ID cards from locals, seemingly to prevent them from voting at the October 17 repeat elections.

Read: Youths storm Kisumu hotel, harass guests accused of buying IDs

However, attendees at the meeting said they were advocating for peace ahead of the polls.

Police intervened and fired teargas to disperse the crowd which had started hurling stones and beating up the women at the Jumuyia hotel.

Several women were injured and a number of laptops and unknown amount of money stolen by the goons.

“We are yet to fully understand the motive behind this action of disrupting an IRCK event and would not wish to be drawn to the circulating rumours,” Kuria said.

He wondered why a similar meeting held by the council and the Kisumu Interfaith Network in the city just two weeks earlier was not disrupted over the same allegations.

“It is shameful that these goons and the people who organized and sent them found no reason to disrupt the male religious leaders but were quick to disperse the women.”

Kuria thanked the police for swiftly moving in and saving the women from harm and urged them to conduct speedy investigations into the matter.

He also called on political leaders to restrain their followers and supporters from engaging in activities that endanger other people’s lives and rights.

“Kenya must not come to a standstill because of politics. Kenyans from all walks of life must be free to engage in their normal activities without fear of intimidation and physical harm,” Kuria said.

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