Obama faces criticism from Kenyan leaders for promoting gay rights
People and politicians on Sunday a muted and measured response to US President Barack Obama's firm support for gay rights during his historic visit to Kenya.
Standing alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta outside the State House on Saturday, Obama answered a journalist's question on gay rights by drawing equivalence between homophobia and racism.
"As an African-American in the United States I am painfully aware of what happens when people are treated differently under the law," Obama said.
The comparison is particularly stinging in Kenya, which, like other African countries, has a proud history of resisting and overcoming colonial rule by white foreigners.
"When you start treating people differently -- because they're different -- that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode, and bad things happen," said Obama, adding that treating people differently "because of who they love is wrong, full stop."
"I've been consistent all across Africa on this," said Obama, who previously spoke in support of gay rights during a visit to Senegal in 2013.
Then, President Macky Sall replied that his country was "not ready" to decriminalise homosexuality, which is illegal in 35 African countries and carries the death penalty in four, according to campaign group Amnesty International.
On Saturday, Kenyatta repeated his argument that, for Kenyans, gay rights is "really a non-issue". He said it was an area of disagreement for Kenya and the US.
"There are some things we don't share, that our society, our culture, don't accept," Kenyatta said.
"Spirit of gayism"
Edna Kendi, a 29-year old software developer was unimpressed by Obama publicly advocating gay rights. "He has to respect our culture," she said. "People can be gay but they should do so in private and quietly."
Kendi urged Obama to "stick to issues that are pertinent to the visit," for her, corruption and trade.
Moses Abok, a 49-year old motorbike taxi driver waiting for customers beneath a shady jacaranda tree, echoed Kenyatta's view.
"To me, it doesn't matter. The spirit of gayism is inside just a few people," he said using a common Kenyan term for homosexuality. "It's not a big deal for us."
But Abok also welcomed Obama's words. "What he said is we should value all people, we shouldn't alienate or eliminate those people, because they are part of us, they are human beings," he said.
Ruo Maina, a 50-year old businessman in the manufacturing industry who had popped out to buy the Sunday papers, said what you do at home is nobody's business.
"As long as you do it in private, we don't care," he said. Maina was not interested in public debates on gay rights, but added that Kenya's vocal anti-gay extremists are equally indulging in unnecessary "provocation".
"We don't need to be saying it is deviant," he said.
Deputy President William Ruto periodically addresses evangelical Christian churches to warn against homosexuality. There is "no room" for gays in Kenya he told worshippers in May, and in July railed against the US for allowing "gay relations and other dirty things."
Anti-gay firebrand Irungu Kangata leads a cross-party caucus seeking to have the country's existing anti-homosexuality laws -- which include a maximum 14-year sentence -- to be strictly applied and makes frequent media appearances to explain that "gayism" is a lifestyle choice that can and should be unmade.
Vincent Kadala, an aspiring politician whose Republican Liberty Party has no seats in parliament, threatened to rally 5,000 naked men and women in order to show Obama "the difference between a man and woman".
The promised protest attracted a lot of media attention but was never held.
US President Joe Biden expressed shock over the "vicious attack" on Salman Rushdie and said that he pray for his health and recovery. White House termed the attack on Salman Rushdie as "appalling" and said that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Administration is praying for a speedy recovery of the renowned author. Hadi Matar, who is suspected of stabbing an Indian-born-British author in western New York State on Friday morning during a lecture was arraigned in centralized arraignment on Saturday and was remanded without bail at Chautauqua County Jail. A suspect has been taken into custody.
A 24-year old New Jersey man charged with attempted murder and assault for attacking author Salman Rushdie has pleaded not guilty. Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey was arraigned in centralised arraignment on Saturday and was remanded without bail at Chautauqua County Jail. Authorities with New York State Police told PTI that Matar pleaded not guilty and was held in the Chautauqua County Jail.
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man who stabbed Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie in New York on Friday, has been charged with 'attempted murder and assault in the second degree', the Chautauqua Country district attorney's office said on Saturday. Matar was born and raised in the US, the head of the local municipality, Ali Qassem Tahfa, told news agency AFP. Rushdie remained hospitalised in serious condition.
The WHO has been in the process of renaming monkeypox since June alongside other efforts to urge the global community not to have any stereotypes around it. The zoonotic disease is disproportionately affecting men in sexual relationships with men and spreads via close contact.
A Booker Prize that catapulted him to the pantheon of global literary stalwarts to a fatwa by Iran's Supreme Leader that forced him into hiding and years of death threats, Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie was both idolised and demonised for a singular trait that defined his life and works -- championing free speech. His memoir is Joseph Anton, named for the pseudonym he used while in hiding.