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Christians Oppose Muslim Push for Sharia in Kenya

Washington -- International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Muslim leaders are calling for Sharia to be enshrined in Kenya's constitution. The move is opposed by Christian leaders who fear that it will lead to greater persecution, as it has in Sudan and Nigeria.

Islamic courts, known as Kadhi, have existed for a long time at district levels in Kenya. But they were limited to settling divorce, inheritance and marriage disputes among Muslims.

Kenya has drafted a new constitution which seeks to expand the power of the Islamic courts to include settlement of civil and commercial disputes. Kenyan Muslim leaders are also pushing to elevate the courts to the national level and give them the same privileges as the secular courts.

Christian leaders argue that recognizing Sharia courts in the constitution gives special privileges to Kenya's Muslims. Rev. Dr. Wellington Mutiso, the general secretary of the evangelical alliance of Kenya, said in an interview with ICC, "We oppose the entrenching of Kahdi in the constitution of Kenya because religion and state should be kept separated in a secular state. Besides, the principles of Islamic laws are discriminatory to women's right. Thus, entrenching Islamic principles in the Kenyan constitution violates constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination."

The majority of Kenyans are Christians with Muslims making up about ten percent of the population. But in the coastal and the northeastern provinces of Kenya, Muslims are the majority.

Jonathan Racho, ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, said, "We urge Kenyan officials not to recognize Sharia courts in the new constitution. Such a move will lead to further violence and discrimination against Christians in the Muslim dominated provinces of Kenya."

International Christian Concern

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