Youths Riot, Torch Church After Popular Imam Killed in Kenya

Youths Riot, Torch Church After Popular Imam Killed in Kenya

Sheikh Ibrahim Omar and three others were murdered Thursday in Mombassa, Kenya. Omar preached at a mosque that reportedly recruited members for the Somali al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al-Shabaab. In retaliation for the murders, Muslim youths rioted in the streets of Kenya’s biggest port city.

Omar was in his car at the time of the shooting; one passenger did survive. The youths burned a Salvation Army church and blocked the main road into the city in the resulting riots. Another mob of youths terrorized Mombasa’s Saba Saba neighborhood. Shops were closed and residents fled. 

On Friday, the police had to use tear gas to disperse over 200 protesters after Friday prayers at the Masjid Musa mosque. The Kenyan Red Cross said one person died after being shot and eight others were being treated.

“We are trying to deal with some youths who have started bringing trouble within town,” Robert Kitur, Mombasa county police chief, told Reuters. “They are few. We will contain them.”

Last August, similar riots resulted when cleric Aboud Rogo was killed in his vehicle. Both Rogo and Omar were popular with Muslim youths, some of whom claim police executed the men.

“This is no doubt a police execution given what has happened in Nairobi,” said 37-year-old Abdul Hassan Omar in Mombasa’s rundown Majengo district, where Omar and Rogo both preached.

“They (authorities) have panicked because of their own laxity which killed Kenyans at Westgate. Now they are trying to save face by sacrificing innocent Muslims,” said Hatib Suleiman, 21, who prays at Omar’s Masjid Mussa mosque.

“We are not going to take this lightly.”

The police deny the accusation.