NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops is facing a lawsuit over the cancellation of a rental contract for a restaurant operated by a Somali Muslim.

Al-Yusra Restaurant Ltd. had signed a six-year lease starting in 2013 to operate a restaurant in a section of Waumini House where the bishops’ conference is based. Baakai Maalim, a Somali Muslim, is a director for the company.

A lawyer for the bishops said the lease was signed without written consent and knowledge of the bishops.

Waumini House is about one kilometer from the Westgate Shopping Mall, where a terrorist attack in September 2013 left 67 people dead.

That attack and others blamed on the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab have heightened fear among Christian leaders and increased suspicion between Christians and Muslims.

“We stopped the lease for security reasons,” said Bishop Martin Kivuva of Machakos. “The restaurant would have increased human traffic within the building and that can be a danger even to other businesses here.”

But Rahma Jillo, the restaurant’s lawyer, claims the tenant was rejected because he is Somali and a Muslim. She accused the church of using tactics informed by discrimination and intolerance.

“This is not only discriminatory, but highly objectionable in the view of the recent past screening of Muslim Somalis,” said Jillo, in a letter quoted in The Star newspaper.

Jillo said the termination is illegal in Kenya, where the constitution provides for freedom of religion and bans discrimination on the basis of religion.

The restaurant owner is demanding $1 million in compensation for renovations made at the site, a rent deposit and lost profits.

Kivuva termed the demands as “impossible” and said the bishops had clearly explained their concerns to the business owners.

“The cancellation had nothing to do with the owners being Muslims,” he said. There are other tenants in the building, but they are mainly private offices or firms linked to the church.


Categories: Beliefs

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Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.


  1. No surprise, Catholic bishops everywhere continue the constant wars of one religion versus other religions and all religions against against people who disagree with them.

    Freedom of religion is the only solution, and freedom of religion absolutely included freedom from religion.

    It is so many centuries, so many millennia, past the time that we recognize and admit that because religion is so divisive, the only healthy condition in any society is to maintain an absolute separation between religion and government, between church and state, between religion and all civic enterprises.

  2. Locate a single place on earth where troubles among people do not have their root in religion. East, west, north, or south, now or at any time in the past, whether it is belief or non-belief, problems among people or between peoples exist because of attempted assertions of belief or against the tyranny of those belief assertions.

    The only way to peace is to follow the wisdom and inclusion in our Constitution by its Framers of a genuine separation between all religion and all government–even in the case of Greece, NY, and in the case of the religious arrogance of the Green family who sneaked into wealth with their Hobby Lobby business and were able to buy our Catholic Supreme Court.

    • True peace worldwide can only be achieved through the millenial rule of God’s son, Jesus, from God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 11:1-10).

      That rule will be completely righteous, wise and just, compared to the corrupt, selfish and greedy governments of man.

      • Perry Stewart

        Fran, I’m sure your reply is wasted on gilhcan.

        However, what you write is true.

        In the meantime Christianity remains the most persecuted religion on earth since the mid-20th century and that stats now abound which confirm this.

  3. The mall was owned by an Israeli. The people in it were given questions regarding Islam and Islamic prayers, and those who could answer them were freed. The others were killed, i.e., non-Islamics. Of course, you would have to be insensitive to these factors in order to sling mud at anything Christian.
    Check out how things work in the Islamic countries because you wouldn’t dare open your mouth in dissent.

    • So true Leo. It was prudent of the Catholic Bishops to stop this lease. For security. But a Muslim can accuse a Christian of anything in their lands and get away from it. They can get Christians jailed, stoned, killed. lashed. hands cut off. Christians in Muslim lands remain under Pact of Omar. They are dimmi or slaves. Second rate citizens. The Catholic Bishops have every right to deny access to their conference center.

    • It’s fine to condemn the actions of those who perpetrated the mall massacre. As a Muslim I’ll join you. What’s not fine is supporting discrimination in Kenya against someone on the basis of ethnicity (Somalian), or religion (Islam). That is simply narrow minded bigotry. The, “oh but look how ‘they’ would treat you over there” defence is irrelevant. The restaurant owner in Kenya is not on trial nor answerable for what others elsewhere may or may not do.

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