News / Africa

Kenya’s Muslims Outraged by Westgate Attack

Mary Italo mourns the death of her son Thomas Italo who was killed during the attack at the Westgate Shopping Center in the capital Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2013.
Mary Italo mourns the death of her son Thomas Italo who was killed during the attack at the Westgate Shopping Center in the capital Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
As investigations continue into the terrorist attack on a Nairobi shopping mall, the city’s Muslim community is trying to come to terms with the atrocities committed by Islamist militants.  Many say they stand with their fellow Kenyans in the wake of the attack, but some worry Muslims are being unfairly blamed.

It has been five days since a group of gunmen launched their assault inside the Westgate shopping mall.  More than 60 civilians were killed, including women and children, and nearly 200 wounded.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militant group took responsibility for the attack, saying it was retribution for the killing of Muslims in Kenya’s military operations in Somalia.

But outside the Jamia mosque, a bastion of calm in the middle of Nairobi’s bustling central business district, Islamic scholar Abdullahi Galkayo said the terrorists' aims haad nothing to do with religion.

“Do you know Islam?  Islam is peace.  The name Islam itself is peace.  You are not supposed to kill even an insect.  If you kill a person, you have killed the whole world, in the Islamic religion,” said the scholar.

Galkayo said if the terrorists goal was to divide the people of Kenya, they have failed.

“This country is a wonderful country.  Please, I am asking the person who came and did the thing in Westgate, let him now try again.  We are vigilant, and everybody of Kenya, we ask them to be vigilant,” said Galkayo.

  • Smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25 2013. 
  • Catholic nuns pray near the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Fresh graves of Westgate Mall shooting victims in a cemetery in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013. 
  • Kenyan security forces stand on the top floor of a building facing the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 25, 2013.
  • Mary Italo, center, grieves with other relatives for her son Thomas Abayo Italo, 33, who was killed in the Westgate Mall attack, as they wait to receive his body at the mortuary in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 25, 2013. 
  • Kenya Defense Forces soldiers take their position at the Westgate Mall, on the fourth day since militants stormed into the mall, in Nairobi, Sept. 24, 2013.
  • Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Paramedics run outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi after heavy shooting, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • People donate blood for people injured in the attack at the Westgate Mall, at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Stephen, center, who lost his father in Saturday's attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is comforted by relatives as he waits for the post mortem exam at the city morgue, Sept. 23, 2013.
  • Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.
  • Civilians who had been hiding inside during the gun battle manage to flee from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.

Witnesses who escaped the mall after the assault began last Saturday say the assailants tried to separate Muslims from the crowd to allow them to go free.

But the people at Jamia mosque said they knew Muslims who were killed and wounded in the assault.

Adding insult to injury, those who managed to escape are now being singled out as suspects.  Sherif Thaha, a magazine publisher, said this was the case of his friend Ali, a driver who was shot while taking two customers shopping.

“At the end of the day, when the shooting started, they started with Ali.  He was shot four times.  We know him, we know his father, we know his mother, we know his wife, we know his brother who works here.  Today, Ali is branded a terrorist, and he is in Memorial Hospital,” said Thaha.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in an address to the nation Tuesday 11 suspects had been arrested, but the names have not been made public.

Meantime, Kenyans are starting to get frustrated with the lack of information about the attack.  Engineer Ahmed Agil said many questions needed to be answered.

“The question is how many were these people?  We still do not know," said Agil. "How did they manage to go in?  Why did it take so long?"

The government said investigators were probing the scene, and would conduct a forensic analysis to determine who exactly was involved in the attack, and to identify the victims still buried in the rubble.

According to the Red Cross, more than 60 people have been reported missing and friends are concerned they may have been inside the mall.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid