The Pro-Cathedral of Our Lady of Consolata, Marsabit Diocese was among the vandalized premises in Marsabit town on 13th, Saturday, 2018 following protest by the Muslim youth over the arrest of a Muslim cleric. According to Marsabit Diocese Vicar General Rev. Fr. Ibrahim Racho, rioting Muslim youth stoned and severely destroyed the windows of the Cathedral Church as three Cars belonging to the Diocese which were packed within the Church Compound at the time.
Fr. Racho who doubles as the Director of the Diocesan Radio Station, Radio Jangwani 106.3 FM explained to AMECEA Online News during a phone interview that members of the Anti-Terrorist Police Unit came to Marsabit and arrested Sheikh Guyo Gorsa who was at the time in his madrasa class with more than 200 Primary school going children.
“When the police came they arrested him in front of the children who in turn started shouting and making a lot of noise. The commotion attracted the attention of people nearby who came to learn of the arrest,” Fr. Racho who is also the Diocesan Communications Director said.
According to him, within no time, quite a number of Muslim youth had gathered and they started chasing after the three vehicles which had picked the Sheikh demanding for his immediate release. One of the vehicles went to Marsabit town Police station and thinking that the Sheikh was taken there, the youth budged into the station and confronted the police demanding the release of their preacher. The youth who had turned rowdy blocked roads and lit bonfires using tyres. From the Police station they turned their anger to a nearby Kenya Commercial Bank which is just a few meters from the Police station and vandalised the building.
“When they were dispersed from there they went to the Catholic Church, forced their way in after beating up the watchman and completely destroying the gate. Once inside the compound they started breaking windows using stones. Fortunately, they did not gain entry into the Cathedral,” Fr. Racho explained adding that there were three cars belonging to the diocese which were packed within the church compound and these too were not spared.
He said the police arrived in time and dispersed the rioters from where they went into town and caused more chaos, looting and vandalizing businesses especially shops, hotels and restaurants resulting to huge loses and serious damages on property.
Following the aftermath, three people were reportedly killed and several others injured. However, at the Church compound nobody was hurt except the watchman who sustained injuries that are not life threatening.
Fr. Racho said that, luckily, there were no activities going on at the Cathedral during the time of attack, which took place at around noon, East Africa time adding that, earlier in the Morning there were Sunday school children who luckily had just shortly before the attack happened.
He explained that there wasn’t any religious related tension between Christian and Muslims in Marsabit. “Before we were peacefully coexisting and this for me, I want to believe is not a religious animosity but just the anger of the Muslim youth over the Sheikh being arrested and their action was purely to vent their anger.”
“At the moment the situation is calm, businesses have resumed and the tension seem to be over. Only that there are still some people who are injured in the hospital, some having bullet wounds though the bullets have been removed,” he further explained.
The cost of the destruction at the Cathedral Church is yet to be known, Fr. Racho said adding that the Diocese has engaged someone to do the costing and they will be able to know the amount soon.
According to media reports, the Saturday incident was not the first time the sheikh was arrested by anti-terror police. He was first arrested in 2014 while in Mombasa and re-arrested early 2015 in Marsabit. The sheikh has denied claims that he has links with the Al Shabaab terror group operating from Somalia.
By Pamela Adinda, AMECEA Online News