Guide International Religious Freedom Report Country of Kenya

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Personal or professional discrimination as well as coercion on account of religion is prohibited. Kenya has had a very lively debate about the legal aspects of religious freedom. During the period under review, the country has seen some contentious issues come up on matters of religious freedoms and their legislative regulation. At the beginning of , Professor Muigai announced that new provisions were to be added to the Religious Societies Rules of The new regulations were aimed at exercising tougher control on religious groups. Academic credentials would be required of preachers or church leaders.

Attorney General Muigui and President Kenyatta have also disagreed over a moratorium on the registration of religious organisations, issued in November following suspicions of radicalism among religious societies.

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The Attorney General was in favour of the moratorium, which was reiterated in an official statement from his office in February The group called Atheists in Kenya — advocates for the cause of atheists and agnostics — was first registered in February but was suspended two months later by the Office of the Attorney General, which had received complaints from the public regarding its activities and pronouncements. The group challenged this suspension by filing a case before the High Court, and in January the High Court overturned its deregistration.

In September , the Kenyan Court of Appeal ruled that female Muslim students were allowed to wear the veil in educational institutions including Christian facilities.

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This ruling overturned a previous High Court decision in March In addition, some members of independent African Churches such as the Akorinos, whose members wear turbans men and veil women , claimed that the ruling allowed them to keep their mandatory dress code too. They have often complained about discrimination in public offices, schools and institutions.

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Violent actions by members of the Somali-based Al-Shabab group, especially in the north and the east of the country, continue, however, and are still a serious threat to the general population, especially to outsiders and non-Muslims who live and work in those regions. This is also because the group keeps using religion as an excuse for political and propaganda purposes and targets non-Muslims or non-Islamic institutions. Nonetheless, the intensity and number of Al-Shabab attacks on civilians seem to have dropped considerably in the last two years. Massive counter-terrorist measures by security agencies, some of which were described by various human rights organisations as unlawful, now appear to be less frequent.

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In fact, the security services and the armed forces have yet to be held accountable for quite a few unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, ill-treatment of detainees and disappearance of individuals in coastal areas. In comparison with previous years, the general situation of religious freedom in the country seems to have improved slightly. However, we must stress that groups and associations fighting for active citizenship, human rights and civil liberties continue to be targeted by police and the security forces.

Their activities have often been disrupted by government officials on questionable grounds while their leaders complain that they are subjected to constant intimidation. Such assaults have become routine. With government unable to stop the killing, the temptation to strike back indiscriminately is growing.

If Nigeria goes into civil war, all of West Africa is gone. Algeria enforces Islam as a state religion, promulgates blasphemy laws, discriminates against converts, and closes churches. In Egypt, Copts are subject to attacks by mobs and terrorists, face legal discrimination, and are targeted by anti-blasphemy laws. Converts face social and legal pressure. Eritrea authorizes only four churches, which it closely regulates; it has raided numerous churches and arrested thousands of people for their faith. Ethiopia has used its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation against people of faith. In rural areas where Muslims predominate, Christians face discrimination.

In Kenya, members of the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab have launched terrorist attacks and the government has sought to extend its control over religious groups. In Libya, competing governments have created chaos, allowing extremist groups to operate, attacking Christians and other religious minorities. Christians worship underground; women are at risk of sexual assault and men of forced labor. Sharia law and anti-blasphemy statutes apply. Radical jihadist thought is spreading.

Conversion is variously punished and prohibited.

Islamist radicalism is spreading and religious minorities must practice their faith underground. In Sudan, religious minorities suffer systematic government harassment and the confiscation and destruction of church properties. Converts face prosecution and social pressure; religious offenses typically are judged by Islamic law. The regime has targeted churches based in the Nuba Mountains, home to a long-lasting insurgency. A number of these countries are North African and Muslim.

A couple of them are closely divided, such as Nigeria and Eritrea.

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A couple are even Christian-majority nations. The most important animating factor, though, is violent, repressive Islam. Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan are old-line, traditional Islamic oppressors, while rising radicalism has triggered growing violence in majority-Islamic countries Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, and Tunisia. This same force has wreaked havoc in divided Nigeria and majority-Christian Kenya. Similarly brutal are jihadist organizations active in the majority-Christian Central African Republic.

While the violence from Islamic State and other Islamic militants has mostly disappeared from the Middle East, their loss of territory there means that fighters have dispersed to a larger number of countries not only in the region, but, increasingly, into sub-Saharan Africa.

Kenya: General Resources, Politics, & Human Rights | Columbia University Libraries

For instance, the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi, backed up by American and European forces, led to chaos and a vacuum in which Islamist radicals have prospered. Politics is the chief oppressor in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and an important factor in Sudan, which has killed promiscuously to suppress local and regional separatists.

Authoritarian governments fear any opposition, especially one claiming a transcendent allegiance. Africa is moving forward, but religious violence and persecution threaten its future. Unfortunately, there is little the United States can do, other than observe the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm. Misguided policies in the Mideast have created blowback in Africa.