World Bulletin/News Desk
Hundreds of Kenyan Muslims on Sunday marked the birthday of Islam's prophet Muhammad [PBUH] by organizing a colorful procession in Mombasa, this country's second largest city.
Muslim leaders and heads of Sufi orders and the city's nobility, including Mombasa's Governor, Hassan Joho, Mombasa Island MP Abdulswamad Shariff, Kisauni MP Rashid Bedzimba and Kenya’s ambassador to Oman Sheikh Mohammed Dor, were present in the frontline of the procession, which toured the streets of the city.
Songs were played in the procession, which also included dance performances carried out by children enrolled in schools teaching Muslims' holy book, the Quran.
The schools are known in Kenya by the name "Zefe."
The songs were all in praise of Islam's prophet whose birth was widely celebrated on Saturday across the world by hundreds of millions of Muslims.
"This is the picture we want to see in Mombasa: peaceful processions like this one to remember our beloved prophet," Joho told The Anadolu Agency after the event.
Kenyan authorities beefed up security measures in Mombasa where the procession was held.
The city was recently targeted by a series of grenade and gun attacks carried out by suspected members of the Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab movement, which is active in neighboring Somalia.
Some Sufi Muslim leaders, especially those believed to be pro-government, were targeted and murdered in the city in the past.
"We are aware that some people have been against such celebrations," Robert Kirui, the Mombasa police chief, told AA.
"We have to be on alert all the time to make sure that the celebrations are not disrupted," he added.
At Makadara Grounds, hundreds of people carried flags, glorifying prophet Muhammad.
Muslim leaders, led by renowned sheikh, Muhammad Khatimy, took the opportunity to speak about tolerance between Muslims and people of other faiths.
Mombasa and the coast region have a majority Muslim population. Recent events have, however, sowed the seeds of tension between these Muslims and the adherents of the other religions.
"Let us all show our love for the prophet by emulating his life," Sheikh Khatimy said.
"The prophet lived in harmony with all manner of people: Muslims and non-Muslims," he added in the local Swahili language.
The grand prophet birthday festival is expected to take place in Kenya on January 15 on Lamu Island, the site of the shrine of a 19th century Sufi saint.
The Lamu festival usually attracts a large number of Muslims from East Africa, central Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean island nations of Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius.
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