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Kenya

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Church services in Kenya have been targeted by militant Islamists

Two pastors in the coastal region of Kenya were murdered in the space of two nights in October 2013. Charles Matole was found in his church in Mombasa, shot in the head from behind; he had begun to receive death threats after he led several evangelistic meetings in the city. Ebrahim Kidata was left in bush in Kilifi, having apparently been strangled; he was planning to plant churches in the Vitengeni area.

The deaths of these pastors highlight the threat faced by Christians in the coastal region, where many of the country’s Muslims live. Members of the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab have taken refuge there after being driven out of Somalia by Kenyan and African Union forces, and they have carried out a number of gun, grenade and bomb attacks against local congregations. In one incident last year, 15 people were injured when an explosive device was thrown into a church compound near Likoni in June. Al-Shabaab was also responsible for the siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in September, when the militants murdered many of their non-Muslim hostages.

 Although Christians and Muslims generally live at peace in Kenya, some converts from Islam to Christianity have been threatened with violence or death by Muslim leaders. Like many converts, they are also liable to harassment and persecution by their own families.

 Kenya is more than 80% Christian and has seen massive church growth in recent decades. But Muslims form the majority in some areas, and Christians there may suffer discrimination from individuals and businesses. Muslims are seeking to Islamise these regions. The constitution allows Muslims to have certain civil cases, such as divorce and inheritance, decided by Islamic (Kadhi) courts.

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