All eyes are on Kenya as the country prepares for the March 4 general elections that will decide the President, Senators, County Governors, Members of Parliament, Civic Wards and Women County Representatives. “We are at a defining moment because these are the first elections under the new constitution, with its many new structures and elective and nominative posts,” explained the Open Doors coordinator for the region. Remembering disastrous outbreaks of violence following previous elections, many observers are holding their breath. More than 1,000 people died in post-election violence in 2007.
Political instability in the region, combined with radical al-Shabaab influences, has fueled deepening concern over the future religious atmosphere in the country. The Muslim minority’s success in pressuring the government to allow greater official influence for Islam is troubling. Islamic family courts based on Sharia law have been implemented in all counties – even in those with a low Muslim presence. It is feared that at least 10 of the counties with higher Muslim representation may push for the implementation of Sharia law, and even be harboring ambitions to break away from the rest of the country, which is Christian-dominated. Against the backdrop of Muslims successfully vying for top government positions in order to further the Islamic agenda in Kenya, the Church struggles to adapt to the shifting playground.
Open Doors will be closely monitoring the build-up and the outcome of the elections. 2013 is the first time that Kenya has appeared as a whole country on Open Doors’ World Watch List (WWL). Previously only the north-eastern regions were included on the WWL. However, recent incidents of violence against Christians and churches, as well as heightened insecurity in various regions in 2012, resulted in the entire country slipping into the number 40 position on the list. Kenya is now labeled as one of the places where Christians experience moderate persecution.
Open Doors is calling on Christians around the world to join in praying for this nation as they prepare for elections; included is information that will help as you pray for the many serious issues facing Kenya today.
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