Kenya

Al-Shabaab's continued attacks on Christians in northeast Kenya are becoming a worrying trend, containing elements of ethnic cleansing.

Kenya

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
18 68/100
Leader Population
President Uhuru Kenyatta 48,467,000 (39,742,900 Christians)
Main Religion Government
Christianity Republic
Source of Persecution Persecution Level
Islamic Oppression Very High Persecution

For the third year in a row, violence against Christians has increased. Though the majority of Kenyans are Christian, in the northeastern border and coastal regions where Islam is dominant, Christians are a target for radical Islamic groups. Somali-based al-Shabaab militants are infamous for crossing into Kenya and raiding towns or attacking buses, where they separate the Christians from the Muslims, and execute Christians.

PERSECUTION IN KENYA

Fred was one of the students at the university in Garissa, attacked by al-Shabaab militants on 2 April 2015. "As I hid under the bed, I could hear the gunshots and screams of fellow students. After some time things went quiet, but I did not move."

Two attackers entered the room where Fred was hiding. "They sat on the beds, changed their rifle magazines, and then shot at the walls to test them before going out to resume the killings. I stayed there for long - I do not know how long - but was eventually rescued by a Kenya Defense Force officer."

Fred escaped death because he missed his Christian Union prayer meeting that morning. There were usually around 70 people at their prayer meetings. "Yet on that day, for reasons that can only be regarded as God's intervention, about 50 members gave it a miss. Sadly, all 22 who went to pray died there."

Until recently, there was no history of religious conflict, and Christians and Muslims appeared to co-exist in relative peace. However, with radical Islam spilling over into Kenya from Somalia, this has changed.In the areas of Kenya where Islam is dominant, Christians are frequently targeted by radical Muslims. Some churches have installed metal detectors for fear of suicide bombers, or hired armed police to guard their services. Church attendance has diminished, not only out of fear of attack, but because individuals have been warned by extremists not to go.

Life for Christians in Kenya is also affected in other more subtle ways. In the Muslim-majority northeast of Kenya, Christians are denied burial spaces. One of the biggest media houses is owned by Muslims and is used to portray Christians negatively and promote an Islamic agenda. Even as Muslims are raising their voices, Christians feel that they are being silenced by an increasingly secular government, pushing through policies on education and gender that force the church to bend or break.

HOW WE HELP

Open Doors has been working in Kenya through local partners and churches since the early 2000s, offering support to churches in the volatile Islam-dominated northeastern border and coastal regions. Open Doors assists in the following areas:

  • Cross-cultural evangelism and discipleship training
  • Economic empowerment
  • Leadership and management training for church leaders
  • Trauma care training.

PRAYER POINTS FOR KENYA

  • That believers who have lost loved ones in raids by al-Shabaab would know God's comfort
  • For Open Doors workers providing support and relief to victims of persecution in Kenya
  • For Christians in the political arena. Pray for wisdom to counter the growing influence of radical Islamic groups in northeast Kenya.
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