Kenyan Muslims Claim Official Discrimination

August 1, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Independent Online

Kenyan Muslim leaders are outraged about alleged official discrimination they say has been documented in a government-commissioned report the administration now refuses to release.

The government has refused to comment on the report, but a copy of it has been obtained by the Associated Press.

The report claims to document official discrimination against Muslims trying to travel abroad or get identity documents - without which they cannot vote, own land or hold a bank account.

"There exists a special Vetting Committee for Muslim passport applicants at the Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons," the report said. It also noted long delays for Muslims applying for identity cards.

But Elias Njeru, the public relations officer in the immigration ministry, said he was aware only of a special desk to help reduce congestion for Muslims applying for passports for pilgrimages to Mecca.

"Anything else I don't know," he said.

Salma Abdul, 40, a Muslim housewife who lives in the Kibera slums in the capital, said her 21-year-old daughter, Halima Saumu, has not received an identification card three years after applying, despite having all the required documents.

Abdul said her daughter has been constantly bounced between departments. "Today it takes an average of a year (for Muslims) to get an identification card," she said.

Most Kenyans can obtain a card within two months.

The report also criticizes the deportation of Kenyan Muslims for questioning abroad, a practice known as "rendition" that was also criticized Friday in a statement by Amnesty International.