By S. Hassan
Kenya has been hit by one terror attack after another for quite some time now. While it is a fact that terrorists are inhuman creatures who don’t value human life, it is also emerging that there is an equally dangerous phenomenon that is taking shape – xenophobia.
Following the recent blasts involving two buses in Nairobi’s Thika road, commuters in Nairobi are reportedly devising new ways of avoiding terror attacks. Either alight from the bus when a Somali boards or let the Somali alight.
Increased terror attacks in the country saw the government respond by initiating operation Usalama watch in Nairobi and more so areas largely inhabited by Somalis such as Eastleigh and South C estates.
The operation was met with allegations of ethnic profiling of Somalis. The government screened those arrested, illegal immigrants were deported and refugees taken back to the camps while many others remain in detention.
The raids on these two estates which are mainly inhabited by Somalis created the picture that Somalis were prime suspects since Al-Shabaab was a Somali issue.
While as Somalis we equally bore the brunt of terrorism, we are now facing an equally dangerous situation where we are looked upon as potential terrorist by our fellow countrymen. Even those of us who thought they were known to ‘Kenyans’ are now in for a rude shock.
A young man from Northern Kenya Mr. Adan Mohamed who was the winner of Uongozi season one, a national contest, was a few days ago a victim of his looks. He boarded a matatu while heading to his office and to his surprise, all those who were in the vehicle had to alight because a potential terrorist has walked in.
Adan was carrying his laptop bag and may be those who walked out on him feared the contents without verifying it. He decided not to inconvenience the many people who had to cut short their journey because of him. He alighted and took a cab.
This is a guy who was all over national televisions sometimes back participating and emerging the winner in a national contest – Uongozi season one.
Here is his story:
Today, Kenyans are walking out on us peacefully, I fear tomorrow we may be dragged out and treated to mob justice if things do not change. Therefore, we must all come together and root out the bad elements amongst us without stereotyping and blanket condemnation.
We have more often than not tried to tell Kenyans that we are finding ourselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. On one hand, terror attacks don’t spare us, on the other we are potential terrorists.
My appeal to the Kenyan government and Kenyans at large is, please let us diffuse the xenophobia that is taking shape. Stop portraying all Somalis as potential terrorists. After all, terrorism is a multi-ethnic crime and Somalis are the single largest community that bore the brunt of Al-Shabaab’s brutality.
We were brothers and sisters living together peacefully before Al-Shabaab came calling. We should remain the same and face the challenge together.
Terrorist had all along been trying to set Kenyans against each other by portraying one section as the perpetrators of their heinous acts. So by trying to suspect one another and ultimately going for each other’s throats, we will fall in to their trap.
Let us unite. Let us avoid Kenyans against Kenyans. Remember, ours was Kenyans for Kenya.
Let us not make terrorists have the last laugh!
Mr. Hassan is the publisher, Nepjournal.com and can be reached on email@example.com