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

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid