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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Clampdown after sect strips women
Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi
Moi says the sect is anti-Christian and should be shunned
By Alice Muthengi in Nairobi

Police in Kenya have arrested hundreds of people suspected of being members of the outlawed Mungiki sect following a weekend incident in which women were stripped naked for wearing trousers.


Acts of depravity and rape under the guise of defending African traditions should not be allowed

NCEC
The group beat up and stripped six women, dressed in trousers accusing them of dressing improperly.

Members of the controversial sect had been barred by police from holding prayers in a city estate, Kayole, on Sunday before they turned their anger on the women.

Police used tear gas to disperse the group as they broke and looted property from a nearby church.

There has been public concern over activities of Mungiki sect which claims to be a religious organisation whose doctrines are based on traditional practises of the Kikuyus - Kenya's majority tribe.

Condemnation

The attacks against women triggered widespread condemnation from across the country, with many people expressing disgust and anger.

Nairobi street
Kenyans expressed outrage at the sect's attack on women
The National Convention Executive Council (NCEC) - a civil society organisation lobbying for political change - said acts of depravity and rape under the guise of defending African traditions should not be allowed to happen.

"Mungiki or anybody else cannot arrogate to themselves the role of moral, dress or cultural policemen,'' the council said.

The provincial administration in the capital, Nairobi, has vowed to deal firmly with members of the sect.

The city's provincial commissioner, Cyrus Maina, described Mungiki followers as "a bunch of criminals" who were subverting the administration under the guise of religion.

Facing Mount Kenya

Mungiki has in the recent past clashed with the authorities as attempts by its members to hold meetings often ended up in chaos.

President Moi has not hidden his distaste for the group, terming it as anti-Christian.

The group has astounded many with its advocacy of such practises as female circumcision and hooliganism.

One of Mungiki's doctrines is to face Mount Kenya whenever they pray - Kikuyus believe the mountain is the sacred abode of their god, locally known as Ngai.

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See also:

06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya's vigilante problem
06 Oct 00 | Africa
Kenya lynch mob fears
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