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The Friday Bulletin

Religious, political leaders dispute Muslim census numbers



NAIROBI—Muslim leaders have dismissed the results of the national population and housing census results indicating that the total number of Muslims in the country comprises 5 million.

The leaders termed the results as ridiculous, doctored and did not reflect the true population of Muslims. They said the move was deliberately made to ensure that the Muslim community continue to suffer marginalization and are denied enough allocation of resources for development.

According to the 2019 census figures released last week by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the population of Somalis is 2.7 million while the combined Muslim population from other ethnic groups across the country comprise of 2.3 million.

The leaders further argued it is not statistically possible the community’s population has only increased by 700,000 since the last census carried out ten years ago.

In the 2009 census results released by then Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya who is currently the Kakamega County Governor, Muslims population figure was placed at 4.3 million with Somalis population being placed at 2.3 million then.

Reacting to the census figures, Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) national chairman, Sheikh Abdalla Ateka maintained that the results do not reflect the true number of Muslims in the country and that the low number for the community was aimed at stifling enough resource allocation to facilitate development in the community.

“The overall population of Muslims in the country has increased dramatically over the years. It is ridiculous for Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), to indicate that the community’s population has only increased by 700,000 in ten years. The manipulation of figures are aimed to deny Muslim dominated areas enough resource allocation to finance development,” Ateka said.

He pointed out that the population of Muslims was over 12 million and not 5 million, saying Muslim Members of Parliament both at the National Assembly and Senate should utilize their numbers and influence to champion the interests of the community.

Members of Parliament drawn from NEP counties rejected what they said were “cooked” results which did not reflect the actual numbers on the ground arising from the enumeration that took place in August last year. Saying Somali community are more the 2.7 million declared by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Friday.

MPs Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West) and Abdi

Shurie (Balambala) said that the community is also not happy about being referred to as “Kenyan Somali” saying Somalis are not the only community living in border areas. 

“Apart from this, we are annoyed with the statement of ‘Kenyan Somali’. Why don’t we call the Maasai as Kenyan Maasai,” MP Kolosh said.

Kolosh said the community is challenging the 2019 census results in court on grounds the figures may have been doctored.

In a move which gave legal powers to the government to alter census results, the government in September this year amended the Statistics Act 2019 which allowed the Cabinet to cancel, revise and adjust population and economic census data collected by the Kenya National Bu- reau of Statistics (KNBS).

The provisional result for the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census indicated a population growth of nine million since the exercise was last carried out 10 years ago. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said Kenya’s population is 47,564,296, with 23,548,056 males and 24,014,716 females. A total of 1,524 are intersex.


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