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Western envoys condemn killing of cleric in Mombasa

11 June 2014, 09:21

Nairobi - The United States and British envoys joined other Kenyan leaders in condemning the killing of an Islamic preacher in Mombasa on Tuesday.

Chairman of the Council of Imam and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Sheikh Mohammed Idris was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the coastal city while he was going for dawn prayers at about 5:30 a.m. .

In separate statements, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec who extended deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Idris appealed for calm and restraint on the coast, underscoring the need to prevent any possible spread of violence.

"Equally, we urge everyone to respect Kenya's cultural and religious diversity, which is a source of Kenya's strength," Godec said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The U.S. envoy called on the Kenyan government to undertake a full investigation of the murder and to hold those responsible accountable through the Kenyan justice system.

The 64 year-old Idris was also the chairman of Sakina Mosque in Mombasa that was recently taken over by radical youths. Police said they are yet to know the killers amid tension in the area.

Idris had been expressing fears for his life after the radical youths threatened him and his group. Witnesses said he was shot near his home in Likoni by attackers who later flee the scene immediately after committing the heinous act.

In his statement, British High Commissioner to Kenya, Christian Turner, also echoed calls for calm and restraint emanating from local community leaders at the Coast, and encouraged continued dialogue between all communities.

"It is vital that the people responsible for this crime are held to account under law. We hope the authorities will conduct a full and thorough investigation into this tragic incident," Turner said.

"The UK stands ready to support both Kenya's government and its citizens to counter the shared threat of terrorism in accordance with the Constitution and international human rights law."

Three assailants riding in motorbike confronted the respected preacher and shot him at close range as he was heading to mosque for morning prayers.

Family members condemned the killing and urged the State agencies to investigate the incident.

"We don't want to point accusing fingers to anybody. We urge our supporters to be calm and not to revenge. Allah will pay those who killed him," said his brother Ali Idris.

In his condolence, President Uhuru Kenyatta described Idris as a committed religious leader who stood for what was good for the country and assured that the government will do all it can to bring the killers to book.

"In this hour of sorrow, and on behalf of the people and Government of Kenya, I convey my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the Muslim Community, the CIPK, the family and friends of the late Sheikh Idris," Kenyatta said.

The President observed that the late Sheikh Idris led a life of simplicity and service, aided by the teachings of the Holy Quran, his strong character and independent mind.

"Sheikh Idris was at the forefront in the fight against the radicalization of the youth and therefore his death is a big blow to the country's efforts to stop religious extremism," Kenyatta said.

He commended the late Sheikh Idris for promoting peace and understanding between Kenyans of different faiths.

"I join the Muslim community in mourning a great religious leader whose exemplary service calls for emulation by others," he said.

 - Xinhua

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