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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid