Cabinet Minister Balala Vows to Oppose Terrorism Bill Citing Bias Towards Muslims

( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2003 10:10 AM EST

Cabinet Minister Najib Balala says he will oppose the Terrorism Bill because "it intends to oppress Muslims".

The minister said the Terrorism Suppression Bill, which is expected to be debated in Parliament this week, proposed draconian laws that "are inhuman and against logical thinking".

Balala added that the Bill was conceived by Western countries and was being forced down the throats of Kenyans.

He said the architects of the Bill were targeting Muslims for victimisation. "Muslims in Kenya and the world over are seen as threats to security in the countries that they live in," said Balala.

The Minister for Gender, Sports and Culture made the remarks during a futari (breaking the fast) cum-fund-raiser in aid of Muslim Education and Welfare Association (Mewa) at Muslim Women Institute in Mombasa.

Balala claimed that there are elaborate plans to segregate and humiliate Muslims all over the world.

"We in Kenya should stand up and be counted. I will lead by example and shall oppose the Bill when it comes up in parliament this week," said Balala.

He accused Muslim leaders of failing to speak with one voice saying this is why such laws are surfacing.

He said the Muslim community has said repeatedly that it will oppose the Bill but wondered what it had as the option to the Bill.

"That is why I think Muslims should form a committee that will be comprise of thinkers who will guide the community in what is happening to Muslims," said Balala.

He pointed out that the community should by now have come up with their own version of the Bill that respects human rights and dignity instead of merely criticising it.

The Suppression of Terrorism Bill 2003 was published on April 30, 2003. It provides for stiff penalties to persons and/or organisations found "guilty of involving themselves in acts of terrorism".

Assets of such persons can be seized by the state. The Bill also seeks to empower police to more effectively prevent and deal with acts of terror.

The Bill is also seen by proponents as being the second step in fighting the terror attacks that have been visited upon Kenyans.

The first step was when earlier in the year, National Security Minister, Dr Chris Murungaru, announced the formation of an Anti-Terrorism Police Unit headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Matthew Kabetu.