Kenya: Why police documentary wasn’t aired on television

Published: April 23, 2014

kenyanPoliceDocumTHE reasons behind the cancellation of the airing of the much publicised and awaited Kenya Police Service documentary in major TV stations can now be revealed.

The documentary, which was slated to premier on Wednesday and Thursday at 8.30pm last week, was canceled at the last minute in major following an outcry by Muslim leaders.

In a letter sent to heads of major TV stations and seen by the Star, leaders of Muslim organisations led by Jamia Mosque, Nairobi, said the goal of the police was to “stir emotions against Muslims and give false impression that radical views which encourage violence and terrorism represents the teaching of Islam”.

“Its focus lies in amplifying and fringe voices thereby giving a false impression that radical views which encourage violence and terrorism represents the teaching of Islam,” reads the letter written on April 14.

On Tuesday last week, Muslim leaders including National Muslim Leaders Forum chairman Abdullahi Abdi and Supkem secretary general Adan Wachu led a delegation to TV stations in the city.

Only state-owned KBC has aired the program, which has since been uploaded on YouTube.

“The net result of the police documentary is to increase tensions and suspicions between Kenyans of different faiths owing to the inaccurate information of the teachings of Islam and give credibility to the deliberate campaign of victimisation against Muslims in the pretext of fighting terrorism,” reads the letter signed by the Jamia Mosque secretary general Abdul Bary Hamid.

The Muslim leaders said a media campaign from the police sends “worrying reminders of the Rwandan genocide when the media played an important role in galvanising support for the Hutus in massacring the Tutsi community”.

“We are fully aware of the happenings in Central African Republic where Muslims have been massacred and driven out of cities and towns. Such scenarios are gradually being played here in the country and regrettably with the complicity of the media,” reads the letter.

“We do appreciate it is in the best interest of the nation to raise awareness about the grave threats of terrorism. The documentary serves to demonise the Muslim community and poison the minds of Kenyans that Islamic teaching advocates for the killings of innocent human beings,”

Televisions stations have not formally disclosed the withdrawal of the documentary but sources said there was “wide consultation” among TV heads where they reached a decision not to air it.

“We have to listen to the concerns of audience,” one senior official of a major TV station is quoted as saying.

The letter was sent to the Standard Group, Nation Media Group, Mediamax Network, KBC and Royal Media services.

It was also copied to the Media Owners Association, Media Council of Kenya, National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Kenya National Human Rights Commission among other Muslim and human rights bodies.

Muslims said the video contained violent extremist ideologies, capable of cementing mistrsust and hatred among Kenyans of different faiths.

The program has clips of violent preachings of the late Aboud Rogo and Sheikh Abubakar Sharif alias Makaburi. It also contains videos of violent messages in mosques in Mombasa and Tanzania.

It also has clips of the Egyptian al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri calling for new recruitment into al Qaeda and al Shabaab and cries of parents who claim they lost their children to an al Shabaab recruitment syndicate especially in Nairobi’s Majengo area.

” The necks of infidels must be dealt with. Without doing this, those problems will never end,” Sheikh Ahmed Iman Ali, an alleged Kenyan al Shabaab recruiter is captured saying on video in fluent Swahili.

The one hour two-part program also alleged young recruits who claim success is in killing ‘makafiri’ (infidels)

The documentary also alleged the Nairobi-based Al-Hijra group is using local mosques to preach violence against non-Muslims.

“This is religion of weapons,” says the late Rogo in the video.

“The minute a man openly says that if you don’t share my religious beliefs you should be killed, where is your freedom of worship,” says Former police spokesperson Eric Kiraithe in the video whose executive producer is Inspector General David Kimaiyo.

“This false interpretation will be taken by many viewers as the innate teachings of Islam which is not,” Muslim leaders said.

“We therefore calling for the airing of the airing documentary to be withdrawn immediately as it serves to cultivate an intolerant society and suppress to build a united Kenya where all people from diverse background live in harmony,”

The letter said the documentary will be aired ‘at the expense of increasing resentments against the Muslim community’ in the country.

“At present there is growing animosity towards Muslims and Somalis in particular as a result of the spate of terrorist attacks which are wrongly being attributed to the Muslim community,” reads the letter in part.

“The documentary will only help to fuel the false perception that Islam encourages terrorism and that Muslims support acts of violence against innocent people”.

“This is to therefore, urge you rescind airing the documentary as it will serve as a platform to increase animosity and hostility against Muslims and be the perfect justification for the continued brutal response against Muslims in the recently energized so-called war on terror,”

“We all have an obligation to nurture a peaceful and tolerant society and the media should not accept to be used as conduits to spread hate and animosity against a section of Kenyans”.

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