Jay-Z under fire for Kenyan mosque T-shirt

Jay-Z under fire for Kenyan mosque T-shirt
Rapper Jay-Z has been criticised for wearing a T-shirt featuring an image of a famed Kenyan mosque.
2 min read
08 April, 2021
Riyadha Mosque was founded in the late 19th century [Getty]

A T-shirt worn by hip-hop superstar Jay-Z has caused a stir for featuring the image of Kenya's historic Riyadha Mosque. 

Mosque officials expressed outrage over the use of their place of worship on the T-shirt leading to the Kenyan designer, Zeddie Loky, to issue an apology.

He stated that he intended to promote the historic mosque, located on Kenya's Lamu Island

It was feared that T-shirts bearing the religious site could be worn to "sacrilegious joints" such as bars.

The Grammy winner rapper was seen wearing the offending T-shirt as he left a restaurant in Santa Monica last month. Photos were soon circulated on WhatApp message groups in Kenya, sparking anger among worshippers. 

"Many people were angry about this and thought that the officials running the mosque were involved," Abubakar Badawy, the secretary general of Riyadha Mosque and Islamic Centre told the BBC News.

Such was the anger of worshippers, Badawy posted an open letter to Loky, the T-shirts designer and chief executive Blkburd Genes, explaining the anger that his design had caused. 

"Patrons and general worshipers are disturbed and insulted by the photos of Jay-Z wearing a Blkburd Genes T-shirt portraying our Riyadha Mosque Lamu," the letter read.

"When wearers of these T-shirts end up in bars, clubs and at all sorts of sacrilegious joints, it is certainly an affront to the spiritual respect and dignity towards all those who revere the mosque, its founder and the general Muslim community within and outside Lamu."

In response to the letter, Looks said that offence was not his intention, but rather to celebrate Lamu. 

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"Our intention was in good faith and in line with our mission of educating the world in world history using HD art, bold fine print and a QR code that carries our finding history on Lamu," he said.

The Riyadha Mosque was founded in the late 19th century and continues to serve as an Islamic school, one of the oldest in East Africa. 

The mosque is renowned for its collection of unique manuscripts, some of which date back to 1837. 


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