NAIROBI – For 13 years, Judge Mudhar Ahmed has worked in relative obscurity, issuing Muslim marriage certificates, divorcing Muslim couples and weighing in on Muslim inheritance disputes. Now, he’s facing an issue unlike any he has seen. He has one word to describe it: “Islamophobia.”
Ahmed is the head of Nairobi’s Kadhis Court, one of 17 judicial bodies that administer sharia, or Islamic law, to Kenya’s Muslim minority. The courts were enshrined in the nation’s constitution decades ago, but Christian leaders are seeking to remove them from a proposed new constitution, scheduled for a referendum Aug. 4. They argue that Kenya is a secular state and that Muslims should not receive special privileges.
Muslim leaders say the maneuvers are part of an agenda to deny their community rights and undermine their beliefs. “They are creating hatred between Muslims and Christians,” said Ahmed, his soft voice hardening.