Religious leaders from Lamu County have come out to decry increasing cases of police profiling residents as terrorists because they keep long beards.
The leaders claim that police officers from the Anti-Terror Unit have been harassing men with long beards accusing them of being members of a terror group.
Ustadh Muhaammad Abdikadir, one of the religious leaders, said that it was unfair for the police to stop them at the police road checks to interrogate them whether they are terror suspects because they keep long beards.
“Osama bin Laden wore a long beard and now everyone with a long beard is being treated like him. It is not fair,” Abdikadir said as reported by a local publication.
They also claimed that they have been profiled because of their religious attires – Kanzus and Muslim skullcaps.
They said that most locals have been harassed and sometimes harmed because they wore Islamic attire.
They claimed that this mostly happens when the officers find the residents without identity cards.
The religious leaders explained that keeping long beards is per the Islamic teachings and should not be used against them.
“Keeping beards to us is Sunnah because Prophet Muhammad kept his beard,” Abdikadir noted.
They now demand the security personnel to respect their religious beliefs noting that they should not be profiled as terrorists because of their religion. They explained that anybody can be a terrorist whether they keep long beards or not.