FaithWorld

Kenya PM blasts judges for barring Islamic courts from constitution

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President Mwai Kibaki (C), Prime Minister Raila Odinga (L) and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka (R) release pigeons for peace at a Nairobi rally for the constitution referendum on May 15, 2010/Thomas Mukoya

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has attacked the country’s judiciary as an obstacle to reform after its high court  ruled it would be discriminatory to entrench kadhi courts — Islamic courts that rule on the basis of sharia — in Kenya’s constitution. The ruling came three months before Kenyans vote in a referendum on a proposed new constitution, seen as an important step towards ensuring that post-election violence which shook east Africa’s largest economy in 2008 is not repeated.

Opposition to the Muslim courts brought together Christian clergy and some politicians to oppose the proposed constitution. The kadhis’ courts deal with matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance among Muslims.

A three-judge panel of the high court said religious courts should not be enshrined in the constitution because it ran counter to the principle of separation of state and religion.

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Kenya’s population is about 45% Protestant, 33% Roman Catholic and 10% Muslim, the rest following indigenous faiths or other beliefs. The referendum has heightened differences between Kenya’s Muslims and its Christian churches, which have criticised the draft constitution for including the Islamic courts and allowing abortion in certain circumstances.

Islamic finance has image problem in Christian-majority African states

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A currency dealer counts Kenya shillings in Nairobi on October 23, 2008/Antony Njuguna

Africa’s Islamic finance industry needs to overcome negative perceptions among non-Muslims to successfully expand into predominantly Christian sub-Saharan Africa, an industry leader has said.

Northern Africa is largely Muslim and countries such as Egypt and Sudan have offered Islamic banking for decades.  Now some lenders are looking to expand into sub-Saharan nations, such as Uganda which is 80 per cent Christian.

Kenya investigates Islamic group crackdown on soccer and films

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A Kenyan soccer fan attends their 2010 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Nigeria at the Kasarani stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 14, 2009/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya has deployed security agents to its border with Somalia after Islamic clerics announced they had clamped down on the public broadcast of soccer and films, a security official has said.  Clerics in the frontier town of Mandera said on Monday they had confiscated a number of satellite TV dishes in a football-obsessed nation ahead of the World Cup because public film dens were corrupting youths.

“Two groups, an undercover team from National Security Intelligence Service and (an) anti-terrorist unit, arrived here on Tuesday night to investigate,” a senior local security source who did not wish to be named told Reuters late on Thursday.  Another team has been dispatched to Dadaab refugee camp which is home to some 270,000 mostly Somali refugees in the mostly Muslim region.