Muslim leaders, clerics slam Ruto over stance on Israel-Hamas conflict

Political and religious leaders of the Muslim faith on Sunday called on the government to sever ties with Israel as they unveiled a series of activities they will undertake to show support for the Palestinians.

The leaders called on the government to immediately expel the Israeli ambassador and recall the Kenyan ambassador to show its displeasure over the killings in Gaza.

President William Ruto has committed his government’s full support for Israel in the ongoing conflict.

Members of Parliament Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe), Yusuf Hassan (Kamukunji), former Mandera senator Billow Kerrow and National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF) chairman Sheikh Abdullahi Abdi, among other religious leaders, called on the international community to come to the aid of Palestinians currently trapped in Gaza and deprived of basic services.

“We call on the government to cut off relations with Israel with immediate effect. The position taken by the African Union is a free Palestine.  This position makes Kenya follow these resolutions by virtue of being a member of the AU,” Sheikh Abdi told a press conference at Jamia Mosque.

Hamas militants launched an attack on the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip on October 7, killing 1,300 people. The action stoked historic animosity between the two nations and Israel has since responded by bombing Gaza, killing many.

Mr Mwinyi said he would move a motion in parliament to discuss what was happening in Palestine. He also called on all legitimate governments around the world to disassociate themselves from the Israeli government, which he said is being supported by the US in committing crimes against innocent citizens.

“The Kenyan government should immediately expel the Israeli ambassador and recall our ambassador to that country. Everyone should speak out and condemn Israel because to remain silent is to support oppression,” said Mr Mwinyi.

In retaliation as the war escalated, Israel also cut off food, water and electricity supplies to 2.4 million people in the Gaza Strip. The leaders said this was uncalled for and amounted to severe oppression.

Mr Hassan said Israel should be held solely responsible for the conflict and called on the world to stop Israel and the Kenyan government from offering human aid to the Palestinians.

“Hamas militants didn’t exist in 1948 when Israel expelled the Palestinians and in 1997 when it took a large part of their land. Palestinians are fighting for justice and what is rightfully theirs,” said the Kamkunji MP.

Landhies Mosque Imam Sheikh Ahmed Othman castigated President Ruto for siding with Israel, saying his decision doesn’t augur well with his slogan of fighting for the hustlers.

“President Ruto should not use this conflict to fight for his own interest. We were happy with the way the South African President spoke and showed that Africa fights for those who are persecuted,” Sheikh Othman said.

“What the president did shows that we are no longer taking the issues of human rights seriously and that is a wrong step,” he added.

The Muslim’s sentiments come after the Kenya Coalition of Church Alliances and Ministries (KCCAM), led by Bishop Geoffrey Njuguna, last Wednesday endorsed Israel but called for a ceasefire and an amicable resolution to the dispute between the two nations.

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