The National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK) has issued a statement strongly condemning retaliatory attacks carried out by Muslim rioters as they protested the killing of 47-year-old Sheikh Aboud Rogo whose van was sprayed with bullets by unknown gunmen on Monday, August 27.
In a statement released to newsrooms, NCCK stated that the vandalism and looting by demonstrators were unwarranted and atrocious. The rioters injured innocent worshippers and did extensive damage to property at religious centers that include the Mombasa NCCK offices, Jesus Celebration Center – Buxton, Pentecostal Assemblies of God – Ziwani, Mombasa Pentecostal Church – Buxton, Seventh Day Adventist Church – Ziwani and Salvation Army Church – Majengo.
The General Secretary of the NCCK, Rev. Canon Peter Karanja, raised the following concerns: “We have completely failed to understand the logic that made the demonstrators associate the heinous murder of Aboud Rogo with the churches and other innocent Kenyans. The clear message is that these attacks are indicative of a deep-seated hatred toward the churches whose cause is inexplicable.”
The late Aboud Rogo was a controversial Islamic Cleric who has been detained by the police numerous times on suspicions that he was the chief point man, fundraiser and recruiter for Al-Shabaab in Kenya. He was arrested for the second time in January 2012 and charged with possession of illegal weapons and detonators and, at the time of his death, was out on bail while his trial progressed. Known for fiery preaching and fierce hatred for all infidels, Sheikh Rogo had previously called for, and justified, a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam. in areas occupied by non-Muslims.
On July 6, 2012, at a Mombasa a Muslim place of worship, he reportedly supported the recent twin Garissa church attacks in which 17 Christians were killed. He described the attacks as retribution by oppressed Muslims and justified it claiming that, “The presence of Christians in that region is a mortal threat that Muslims should confront. The churches and evangelicals have an agenda to oppress Muslims.”
In that sermon, Sheikh Rogo reportedly expressed angry about the decision by Garissa’s Muslim and Christian leaders to work closely after the Garissa killings. He was also outraged by the presence of churches in what he termed “Muslim territories” such as the Northern, Eastern and Coast provinces of Kenya. He allegedly stated, “Churches in Muslim territory represent a vile form of Muslim retardation which devout Muslims should confront, hence the killing of 17 people is too small.” He further hailed the Garissa murders as “glorious and like a continuation of the spirit of a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam. by the ‘holy Somali people.'”
Because Rogo is highly regarded among many Muslim youth, news of Sheikh Rogo’s death immediately sparked widespread riots in Mombasa resulting in the destruction of the five Churches and the NCCK Office. Regular police and paramilitary officers cleared the streets in an effort to curtail the violence as traders hastily closed down their shops. Looting also erupted around the Masjid Musa a Muslim place of worship where Rogo’s supporters had laid his body before burial. He was later buried at the Mombasa Manyimbo Muslim Cemetery. Though the rioting has stopped, tension in the city remains high.
Father, we pray for the Christians and other Kenyans who have suffered during these attacks. Grant them comfort and peace. Protect the innocent people in Mombasa now, and we pray for peace and stability to be restored in the city. We pray for Your church to be part of the peace process, that their testimony would speak to the power of Your gospel. We especially pray for the leaders of the churches that were attacked and ask that they would have godly wisdom, guidance and strength as they respond in the wake of the violence to the needs of the people, as well as to the rioters. We pray that Your truth would reign. In the name of Jesus, our Savior and Protector, Amen.