Radicalization: Government to vet preachers who go to schools

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The freedom of worship is considered by many nations to be a fundamental human right. We as Kenyans especially enjoy this freedom in most parts of the country. Unlike some parts of the world where people are discriminated or even tortured and killed for their faith, we are privileged enough to enjoy. Some secondary schools and institutions of higher learning in the country even get to invite preachers from local churches or churches of their choice for them to speak to their students.

The government now however wants to vet preachers before being allowed to hold sermons in schools. Speaking in a statement to newsrooms on Monday, the Cabinet Secretary for education Dr. Fred Matiang’i said that preachers should only be allowed in schools with the purpose of talking to students only after they have been vetted by the leaders of their churches.

He said, “Freedom of worship should be practiced with a measure of responsibility, it is important that students be shielded from destructive religious ideas and ideologies.”

He also urged parents to join in the fight against radicalization. He also added that the freedom of worship should be practiced with a measure of responsibility in order to shield students from destructive ideas and ideologies.

The Cabinet Secretary made these remarks during the closing ceremony of a two-day workshop for education practitioners at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD). The workshop which was organized by the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM) which recently developed a new curriculum for IRE (Islamic Religious Education) which is meant to aid learners to enhance values and morals that promote tolerance, communal living and human dignity.

Just last year, SUPKEM unveiled an “emergency programme” to check the lure of Muslim youth wanting to joining the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, the Somali based terrorist group responsible for perpetrating several attacks in the country.

Radicalization is a process by which a group or an individual adopts increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and practices. While radicals exist on the borderlines of every religion, the greatest fear has been about the rise of radical Islam that has been rampant over the years. But radicalization cannot grow unless it has been given the space to. Thus Dr. Matiang’i added, “We must reject the notion that radicalism has anything to do with Islam, but it is a criminal theology, parents should also be involved in ensuring that children are not radicalized.”

What are some of the ways in which parents can prevent radicalization of their children?

1. Be aware of their friends: this especially applies with new friends but this doesn’t mean you dismiss them right away or tell them not to have any new friends.it simply means keep a close eye on who your children associate with.

2. Changes in routine: some religious extremists carry out extensive online training and with the digitalization of our society and half of our days spent online, there is a big possibility that children may start getting radicalized from the more time they spend online. Keep track of the websites that your child may be visiting frequently.

3. Talk to them about extremism: purpose to talk to them about their faith, no matter what religion, and the levels of extremism that that religion can have. Explain to them the importance of having their faith, how it is not a crime to practice their faith and the true tenets of your religion. Remind them of the core values of your religion: in terms of helping the less fortunate, being kind and showing love to others and how extremism is the complete opposite of that and why they should not be involved with it at any costs.

Remind them also to be open with you, if they have any questions or fears they should always feel free to go to you as the parent for guidance.

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