Muslim clerics seek Raila's intervention over 'state sponsored' religious discrimination

Muslim leaders fault Ruto's 'favouring' the Church, yet Kenya is a secular state

In Summary
  • Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Nairobi chapter met rRaila on Thursday.
  • Ruto has been holding weekly church services since he took over power.
Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga during a meeting with members of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya at Jaramogi Oginga Foundation in Upperhill on March 2, 2023
Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga during a meeting with members of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya at Jaramogi Oginga Foundation in Upperhill on March 2, 2023

A section of Muslims in Nairobi have sought Azimio leader Raila Odinga's intervention over what they termed religious discrimination by the Kenya Kwanza administration.

The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Nairobi chapter accused the state of favouring churches and excluding other religious groupings.

CIPK coordinator Salim Charo alleged open discrimination by the current government despite the legal position that Kenya is a secular state.

President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, who publicly linked their victory in August last year's election to God, have been holding weekly prayers christened interdenominational thanksgiving service.

Just weeks into power, the President hosted an interdenominational church service at State House, eliciting murmurs from Kenyans who accused him of turning Kenya into a theocracy.

Last weekend, the President led a powerful government delegation including DP Gachagua and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi to Lamu county for a church service at Muungano grounds in Mpeketoni.

The head of state is, however, yet to hold similar prayer services with Muslims or any other religious faith.

Charo said on Thursday the move amounts to discrimination and exalts some religions higher than others.

“We encourage Kenyans to continue to co-exist and resist attempts by a section of our leaders to divide us along ethnic and religious lines and continue living together as brothers and sisters united in worship of one God regardless of our faiths, ethnic background or regions of origin,” Charo said.

The almost 100 clerics met opposition chief Raila Odinga at his Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices in Nairobi’s Upper Hill.

Raila was accompanied by Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka, former Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa, Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni and Migori Senator Eddy Oketch.

Raila castigated Ruto for favouring a section of Christian churches and discriminating against other religious groups.

The ODM boss said Ruto should respect all religions and accord each similar treatment without appearing to favour only a few.

He said the President is fueling religious discrimination with his weekly prayer meetings with just a section of pentecostal churches.

“Kenya despite having majority Christians also has Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and even traditional faith groups. Kenya is a secular state, and as a leader you must recognise all religious groups,” Raila said.

Eugene said it is unfortunate that State House is leading in creating divisions among religious leaders by promoting open bias through the weekly prayer activities.

“The law is very clear that we must not have any form of division on the basis of religion starting from the highest office in the land,”  he said.

“Kenya is a secular state, no religion should be discriminated upon like what is happening in State House,” Kioni said.

Two weeks ago, All Saints Cathedral provost Sammy Wainaina warned that prayer meetings by the President would divide the country. 

"In future, if we get a Muslim president and he does what Ruto is doing in public, how will the Christians feel?" Wainaina posed.

At the meeting on Thursday, Raila maintained his demands that the President must stop the ongoing process of recruitment to hire new IEBC commissioners, claiming it gives Ruto an upper hand.

“Given the central role of IEBC as the referee in our elections and with the memories of the 2007 election violence still with us, we reject the moves by Kenya Kwanza regime to singlehandedly pick the new commissioners of the IEBC. The exercise must be done in consultation with other players and stakeholders,” Raila said.

He spoke on a day seven members of the IEBC Selection Panel took oath office after their names were gazetted. 

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