Religious tug-of-war in Kenya over Obama's grandmother
Updated at: 0815 PST, Saturday, April 25, 2009
NAIROBI: Muslims have accused Christians of trying to convert Sarah Obama to Christianity.
Mrs Obama, a figure of substance in her homeland since her grandson was elected US President, was reported locally to have been stopped from going to a Seventh Day Adventist Church by Muslims because they thought the church would try to convert her.
However, members of the church said that she was not to be converted and was merely invited to attend an event.
"We had invited her to grace our meeting in Kisumu which was to mark the end of a three-week convention, but although she had prepared, she did not attend," Lewis Ondiek, a senior church figure, told local media.
It was claimed that family members stopped Mrs Obama from attending the service led by an Australian evangelist, John Jeremic, because they feared the church was trying to convert her but the family said she did not attend because she had a knee complication and could not go.
Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya secretary, said: "Mama Sarah should not be forced by anybody to join Christianity since she is a Muslim."
"Muslims will not sit and watch one of their own being coerced by some religious leaders to convert to Christianity."
Muslims held protests in Kenya about Mrs Obama's conversion and warned of conflict between the faiths over it.
Muslim leaders have claimed that Christians now wished to convert her because of her fame. But one of the pastors involved in the "conversion" later claimed that she was simply invited as a special guest.