The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom. Muslims, primarily ethnic Somalis, complained, however, of arbitrary detention, harassment, and profiling by government security forces, particularly following terrorist attacks inside the country, including those linked to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab or its sympathizers, such as the September 21 attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Muslim leaders stated that the government made it difficult for Muslim youth to acquire identity cards, a prerequisite for voting and access to certain services. Christians stated that in heavily Muslim areas, Muslim government officials discriminated against Christians. Several religious groups complained that the government did not respect or accommodate their members’ religious requirements in executing government functions.
There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. In October Muslim youth in Mombasa rioted and lit a local church on fire after the killing of a Muslim cleric and three other Muslims. Following these incidents and the terrorist attack at Westgate Mall, however, interfaith leaders made public statements supporting religious tolerance and restraint. During the year some Muslims threatened with violence or death individuals, particularly ethnic Somalis, who converted from Islam. Muslims stated that non-Muslim business and community leaders thwarted development efforts in predominantly Muslim areas. Christian leaders stated that Christians were subject to discrimination in historically Muslim areas on the country’s coast and in the northeastern region. Tensions remained high in some communities following several grenade attacks on churches and reprisal attacks against Muslims in 2012, though neither these attacks nor reprisals continued.
The U.S. embassy regularly discussed issues of religious freedom and inclusion with government officials and with local and national religious leaders, including members of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, and the National Council of Churches of Kenya. The embassy urged religious leaders to engage in interfaith efforts to promote a continued commitment to religious freedom and to religious diversity. The embassy supported interfaith efforts to defuse political and ethnic tensions. The embassy encouraged religious leaders to work together across sectarian lines to advance tolerance and peaceful coexistence before and after the 2013 national elections and in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at Westgate Mall.