Tuesday, September 16, 2008


US Ambassador to Kenya, Mr Michael Ranneberger last Sunday hosted iftaar dinner for Kenyan Muslim leaders at his Muthaiga residence in Nairobi. Among those who attended were Cabinet ministers Mohamed Yusuf Haji and Ibraheem Mohamed Elmi and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) chairman Prof Abdulghafur Al-Busaidy. This is the fourth year Ranneberger has hosted the event for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadhan.

"Relationship between the US and Muslims has improved. Muslims have emphasised that Islam is a religion of peace and although much remains to be accomplished, we are making progress" Ambassador Ranneberger said, adding that dialogue between the US Government and Muslims had increased.

He said dialogue would be based on tolerance, courtesy and respect for democratic principles and added that during Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 attacks, Muslims extended "the most generous offers of support" to the Americans.

The ambassador listed various instances of partnership between the US and Kenyan Muslims such as scholarships for Muslim students and English language training for madrasa teachers.The US Government also supports vocational training schools, the annual Lamu Cultural Festival and donates books and computers to Islamic organisations. Others include rehabilitation of schools and clinics, digging of boreholes in Muslim communities, support for NGOs and helping in "strengthening coastal security, in part to stem increased drug trafficking."

Mr Elmi said Muslims had complained about measures targeting them in the US’s fight against terrorism explaining that todate almost 19 Kenyan Muslim's whereabouts are unknown in a rendition carried out by special US counter-terrorism agencies in collaboration with Kenyan and Ethiopian Governments.

However, Mr Ranneberger did not accept or deny the rendition although he continue to say that the US was helping the Kenya government carry out fundamental institutional reforms. "I am convinced Kenya is moving in the right direction," he said.

Last week US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hosted a similar iftaar at the State Department in Washington. She said such dinners afford the US Government an opportunity "to gain deeper understanding for this holy month."

US Marines from their Horn of Africa headquarters in Djibouti ( CJTF-HOA) have also been carrying out several humanitarian missions recently across North Eastern Province of Kenya although suspicion remains.