Clerics urge calm before Monday’s rally in divided Kenya

By Edmund Blair

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NAIROBI (Reuters) – Religious leaders in Kenya have urged calm ahead of an opposition rally next week that threatens to stoke tension in a nation scarred by political violence in the recent past.

Raila Odinga, the main rival Uhuru Kenyatta defeated in last year’s presidential election, has set a deadline of Monday for the government to meet a demand for dialogue over militant attacks, corruption, a slow economy and other grievances.

Ministers have dismissed the call, saying the place for such debate is parliament. Kenyatta’s aides accuse Odinga, a veteran former prime minister, of trying to engineer a crisis to claw his way back to power – a charge the opposition leader denies.

“As churches, we have all united in asking for peace and for calm in the country,” Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala told Reuters, speaking from his cathedral on the edge of the Nairobi park where Odinga will address the rally on Monday.

The 69-year-old former premier’s complaints touch on public grumbles about insecurity after a spate of Islamist attacks and the rising cost of living. But many Kenyans, as well as foreign diplomats, also worry that Monday’s rally could deepen rifts in a country where political loyalties tend to follow ethnic lines.

The nation is haunted by the 2007 presidential election, when 1,200 died in weeks of ethnic blood-letting – over which Kenyatta still faces trial at The Hague this year for crimes against humanity. However, last year’s vote went off calmly.

The Roman Catholic Church called on both sides to “stop all political rallies”, while Presbyterian moderator David Gathanju called on members not to attend Monday’s rally. “We should not let the politicians make us … quarrel or fight,” he said.

The main churches claim about half of Kenya’s 40 million people and could have a strong influence in a nation of regular churchgoers. The comments were also echoed by Muslim leaders.

“We have asked our members to stay at home or at work and avoid any such rallies for the sake of peace,” said Khalifa Mohamed, secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya. About 15 percent of Kenyans are Muslim.

TINDERBOX

Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu whose father was Kenya’s first president after independence from Britain, added to the mounting tensions when he accused local politicians of being behind attacks last month on Mpeketoni coastal area that left 65 dead. Opponents saw it as a reference to Odinga, a Luo.

“The politicians with their pronouncements are lighting the tinderbox if they are not very, very careful,” said one Western diplomat, echoing comments by other envoys.

The 52-year-old president dismissed claims by Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamists that they were responsible for Mpeketoni, although the group has been blamed for other attacks in Kenya.

Odinga has called for a rally and holiday on “saba saba”, the Swahili term for 7/7 or July 7, a date full of symbolism as it recalls the day in 1990 when opponents – including Odinga – of then autocrat Daniel Arap Moi demanded politics be opened up.

Odinga has not said what will happen if his deadline passes without government action. But he has promised more rallies.

The Federation of Public Service Trade Unions issued a statement telling state workers Monday was not a public holiday. The head of Kenya Private Sector Alliance said rallies could get out of hand if not managed well, newspapers reported.

Police promised to secure rallies and prevent any clashes.

A group of about 15 lawmakers, most from Kenyatta’s Jubilee and some from the opposition CORD coalition, met Odinga on Thursday to try and stop the rally, offering a debate in parliament. Odinga, who has held several smaller, peaceful gatherings lately, called parliament “part of the problem”.

However, having challenged the outcome of last year’s election, which marked his third failed bid for the presidency, he has since accepted a court ruling upholding the result.

–Reuters

Nigeria: Kidnapped Girls Escape

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VOM is providing assistance to two sisters who recently escaped captivity from Boko Haram.

Two sisters, Kamka, 19, and Naya, 16, were sleeping when radical Muslims invaded their home. The armed terrorists entered their brother’s room and shot him in the hand before demanding to know where the girls’ father was. When they realized the two sisters were not married and their father was not home, they took the girls by force.

The Boko Haram terrorist group has declared war on Christians in Nigeria, frequently attacking Christian villages, burning Christians’ houses and murdering indiscriminately. They also kidnap teenage girls and force them to convert and marry Boko Haram members.

After forcing Kamka and Naya to walk through the woods at gunpoint, the terrorists immediately put them to work fetching water and cooking. A few days later, the girls were told that both of them were to be married. “We’re too young,” Naya protested. But the leader then showed them his daughter, a girl of 7 or 8, who was already married.

“If we refused to cooperate, we would be killed,” Naya told a VOM worker. “The man whom I was forced to marry took me. He picked up his gun and a knife and threatened to murder me if I continued to resist.”

The sisters cried and prayed together, unsure of what would become of them. But after two weeks, a Muslim woman took pity on them. While fetching water with the girls, she showed them an escape route and told them to run away.

The girls escaped under cover of darkness. They knocked on the door of the first house they came to, praying the owner would be friendly. Although he was Muslim, the man took pity on the girls. He allowed them to bathe and eat, and then had his sister take them to a nearby Christian village.

The girls were traumatized by their experience but are now doing reasonably well. Since it is unsafe for them to return to their home, VOM is providing care for them at a safe house through one of our project partners.

“I thank God that He has saved us from the hands of these bad people,” Naya said. “Everything is now behind me and I’m not afraid anymore. I only want to look forward now.”

And Kamka is also thankful for God’s protection. “I am very grateful that many Christians pray for me,” she said. “Despite what I’ve been through, I still have faith in God.”

–The Voice of the Martyrs

Mwanamke kunyongwa kwa kuasi dini (Uislam) Sudan!!

Daktari Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, ambaye babake ni muisilamu alishitakiwa kwa kosa la kuasi dini pamoja na kufanya zinaa kwa kuolewa na mwanamume mkristo, kitu ambacho dini ya kiisilamu imeharamisha kwa wanawake.Mariam mwenye umri wa miaka 28 pia ni mjamzito na ataadhabiwa kwa kuchapwa mijeledi miamoja kwa kosa la zinaa.

Maafisa wakuu wanasema kuwa licha ya Mariam kulelewa kwa njia ya kikristo yeye bado ni muisilamu kwa sababu hiyo ndiyo dini ya babake.

Alipewa siku tatu baada ya kuhukumiwa aweze kurejea katika dini ya kiisilamu lakini akakataa na ndio maana adhabu ikasalia.

Kwa kawaida wanawake waisilamu hawaruhusiwi kuolewa na wanaume wakristo ingawa wanaume waisilamu wanaruhusiwa kuwaoa wanawake wakristo.

Shirika la kimataifa la kutetea haki za binadamu Amnesty International linasema kuwa Bi Ishag alilelewa kama Mkristo muorthodoxi kwa sababu babake hakuwepo naye maishani mwake.

‘Kesi ya kwanza’

Kesi ya Ibrahim ni ya kwanza ya aina yake kusikika nchini Sudan , kwa mujibu wa shirika la habari la Reuters.

Wanaharakati wa kutetea haki za binadamu, wamelaani uamuzi huo wa mahakama na kuitaka serikali ya Sudan kuheshimu haki na uhuru wa watu kuabudu.

Maafisa wa balozi za mataifa ya magharibi pia wamekemea vikali kesi hiyo na kuelezea asiwasi wao kuihusu.

Maafisa hao wamewataka maafisa wa sheria nchini humo kuangalia kesi hiyo upya na kuhakikisha kuwa Mariam anatendewa haki.

Waziri wa mawasiliano amesema kuwa sio Sudan peke yake ambako sheria za kiisilamu zinafuatwa na ambako sio sawa kwa mtu kubadili dini yake, hali hiyo pia ipo nchini Saudi Arabia na katika nchi zingine zinazofuata sheria za kiisilamu.

Serikali ya Rais Omar al-Bashir inakabiliwa na changamoto nyingi za kiuchumi na kisiasa hasa baada ya kujitenga na Sudan Kusini ambako mafuta yake yalikuwa yanatoka mwaka 2011.

–BBC Swahili

Mchungaji David Yonggi Cho ahukumiwa kwa ubadilifu!

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Mchungaji David Yonggi Cho, 78, mwanzilishi wa kanisa kubwa duniani la Kipentekoste, alihukumiwa kifungo cha miaka mitatu jela kwa kufuja $ milioni 12 fedha za kanisa.

Cho kutoka Korea ya Kusini, mwanzilishi wa Yoido Full Gospel Church, kanisa lililo chini ya Assemblies of God lenye wanachama zaidi ya milioni 1, na kulifanya liwe kanisa lenye kusanyiko kubwa duniani.

Hivi karibuni amekutwa na hatia ya ubadilifu wa kuruhusu viongozi wa kanisa kununua hisa kutoka kwenye kampuni ya mwanawe mkubwa, Cho Hee-Jun, viongozi hao walinunua hisa 250,000 mara nne ya thamani ya soko, kwa mujibu wa taarifa za habari

Shirika la Habari la Yonhap limetangaza kwamba hakimu anaamini Cho lazima aadhibiwe na iwe fundisho kwa wengine, hasa kwa mtu wa hadhi kama yake katika jamii.

Wakati huo huo watumishi wa Mungu kutoka sehemu mbali mbali wamemtetea Mchungaji Cho, kwamba hakujua yote. Wakati wa ushahidi Cho alisema alimwamini kijana wake mkubwa na hakuweza kuangalia na kusoma maelfu ya kurasa za makaratasi, ambayo yalikuwa tayari mbele yake kutiwa saini. Alisaini karatasi. Yeye hajawahi kupokea fedha yoyote kutokana na hizo karatasi.

Zanzibar Tena!!

muungano

Habari kutoka vyanzo mbali mbali vimeandika mabomu mawili yalilipuka siku ya Jumatatu Zanzibar,  lakini hakuna aliyejeruhiwa.

“Uchunguzi unaendelea kupata maelezo ya chanzo cha milipiko hiyo” Kamishna wa polisi msaidizi Mkadam Khamis aliwaambia waandishi wa habari .

Mlipuko mmoja ulitokea karibu na kanisa la Angrikana na mwingine kwenye mgahawa wa Mercury, sehemu watalii wanapopeda kwenda.

Katika hali ya matukio haya mfululizo, Ubalozi wa Uingereza umesema wako tayari kutoa msaada unaotakiwa.

Mwaka jana washambuliaji wasiojulikana walishambulia makanisa mbali mbali ya kikristo na kumwagia tindikali viongozi wa Kikristo pamoja na watalii wawili waliotembelea kisiwa hicho.

Katika maadhimisho ya miaka 50 ya kuungana na Tanzania Bara, baadhi ya vyama vya upinzani wanataka kuvunja mahusiano ya muungano huo.