African Press International (API)

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Kenya gets top marks on religious relations – Respecting religious freedom

Posted by African Press International on September 17, 2007

Story by KEVIN J KELLEY in New York
Publication Date: 9/16/2007

Kenyan authorities respect religious freedom, and Kenyans are tolerant of the diverse creeds in the country, the US State Department says in a report issued on Friday.

The positive appraisal is the latest example of the US increasingly favourable view of Kenyas performance on human rights issues.

The Government at all levels sought to protect this right (of religious freedom) in full and did not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors, states the Kenya section of the 2007 International Religious Freedom Report.

Intermarriage between members of Christian denominations is common, and inter-faith prayer services occur frequently, the report adds.

Intermarriage between Muslims and Christians, although less frequent, also is socially acceptable.

The report, however , notes complaints about discrimination voiced by members of Kenyas Muslim community.

In the view of some Muslim leaders, the survey adds, government discrimination has worsened in the aftermath of the 1998 US embassy bombing, the 2002 attacks at the Coast and terrorist incidents elsewhere in the world.

The Government stated that heightened scrutiny was necessary to deter illegal immigration, in particular illegal border crossings from Somalia, and was not used to discriminate against religious affiliation, the report says.

Majority

The State Department estimates that 80 per cent of Kenyans practise Christianity, with Protestants accounting for 58 per cent of that religious majority and Roman Catholics making up the rest.

Ten per cent of Kenyans are Muslims, the report says.

Some Muslim groups claim to represent up to 30 percent of the population, the State Department notes, adding, This figure is not supported by demographic data.

No mention is made of the Mungiki in the new religious freedom study.

In its 2004 report, the State Department said members of the sect had been frequently harassed and periodically arrested and detained.

That study also noted that some Mungiki had been accused of extortion, killings, illegal drug sales and for-hire vigilantism.

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.nation.ke

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