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Kenya
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 00:00
Religious Freedom Ranking:
3 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement

 

Kenya

Kenya has a population of 39 million people. Approximately 80 percent of the people are Christian and 10 percent are Muslim. Less than one percent is Hindu, Sikh, and Baha’i. Most of the remainder of the population practices indigenous religions. Among the Christians, 58 percent are Protestant and 42 percent are Roman Catholic.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the government generally does not infringe upon freedom of worship, except to require registration by new churches and cases of “witchcraft.” Religious communities are entitled to establish and maintain places of education, including providing religious instruction. Individuals are not to be forced to receive religious instruction or take any oath which is contrary to his/her religion or belief. Some meetings of religious groups have been broken up by police on the grounds that the meetings were primarily political in nature.

Many Muslims feel that they are second-class citizens in a predominantly Christian society and complain that they have been discriminated against by the government. For example, there are claims by the Muslim Human Rights Forum that Muslims have been arbitrarily abducted by the Anti-Terrorist Police for suspected terrorist activity. Muslim leaders have also claimed that the government has arrested Muslim scholars under the pretense of involvement in terrorism to disturb Muslim proselytizing. On the other hand, the government does give Muslim citizens certain special rights. For example, the Constitution and the 1967 Kadhis’ Courts Act established courts that deal with cases involving Islamic Law where it may be applied. This is done when both parties are Muslim and the case deals specifically with matters of Islamic Law. However, in May 2010 the Constitutional Court ruled that the inclusion of these courts and allotting state funds to them is illegal. This decision was immediately appealed by the Attorney General and it is still under review. Some Christian leaders have also claimed that they were discriminated against in Muslim majority areas.

While relations between religious communities have generally been amicable, there have been some instances of violence between Muslims and Christians. For example, there are reports of violence against converts from Islam to Christianity.

Witchcraft and “devil worship” have also been issues. Practitioners of indigenous religions are often viewed as “devil worshippers” by Christians and Muslims as a result of their belief in propitiating their ancestors or local deities. A government commission report, which was not acted upon, alleged many acts of ritual murder by devil worshipers. There have been attacks upon alleged “witches” and “devil worshippers” by alarmed members of mainstream religions. According to state law, the practice of witchcraft with intent to cause fear, annoyance, or injury in mind, person or property is illegal.

 

2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Kenya

Kenya - New World Encyclopedia

Kenya Country Profile- BBC News

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 19:54