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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora