News / Africa

Kenyan Muslims Offer Christians Protection from Attacks

Kenyan security forces secure the African Inland Church after an attack in Kenya's northern town of Garissa, July 1, 2012.Kenyan security forces secure the African Inland Church after an attack in Kenya's northern town of Garissa, July 1, 2012.
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Kenyan security forces secure the African Inland Church after an attack in Kenya's northern town of Garissa, July 1, 2012.
Kenyan security forces secure the African Inland Church after an attack in Kenya's northern town of Garissa, July 1, 2012.
Peter Clottey
A leading member of Kenya’s Inter-Religious Council has welcomed as an unprecedented gesture an offer by Muslim leaders to protect Christians following last Sunday attacks.

Mustafa Ali said the recent church attacks were aimed at creating deep rifts between Muslims and Christians in Kenya.

“The Muslim leaderships in the country, particularly in northeastern Kenya, are saying that they are offering Muslims themselves to guard the churches, particularly on Sundays, as Christians go to the churches and pray,” said Ali.

“This is unprecedented in the Christian-Muslim relationship in the country… the relationships are generally very good, other than a few instances where Christians and Muslims have disagreed on  [few things], but have not really fought each other, as we are witnessing in places like Nigeria,” he added.

Kenyan police say gunmen attacked two churches in the eastern town of Garissa Sunday killing 17 people and wounding 40. They said the attackers threw grenades and opened fire on worshippers.  

The deadliest attack took place at the African Inland Church, where at least 10 people were killed, including two police officers.  The second attack took place at a Catholic church.  Although there has been no claim of responsibility, police have blamed previous attacks on sympathizers of the Somalia-based Islamic militant group al-Shabab.

Ali said the attacks create tension between Christian and Muslim communities.

“For al-Shabab to kill so many Christians, it creates a very difficult situation for the inter-faith relations between Muslims and Christians.  And, Muslims increasingly fear that these kinds of attacks are going to lead to reprisals, the kind that we have seen in Nigeria.”

Prime Minister Raila Odinga condemned the attacks saying they were designed to spark conflict between Muslims and Christians.

Muslim clergymen in Garissa also condemned the attacks and have called for a stronger relationship with their Christian counterparts.

Ali said the Inter-Religious Council supports the gesture by the Muslim leadership to bolster unity and cooperation with Christians following Sunday’s church attacks.

“We support this step taken by the Muslim leadership in Kenya… What al-Shabab wants to do is to create disaffection between Muslims and Christians,” said Ali. “Kenyan Muslims are saying that we should not get into such a stage where Christians are targeting Muslims or Muslims are targeting Christians.”

Clottey interview with Mustafa Ali, member of Kenya’s Inter-Religious Council
Clottey interview with Mustafa Ali, member of Kenya’s Inter-Religious Council i
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Comments
     
by: Basil Vasiliu from: New York
July 05, 2012 7:43 AM
There is nothing more atrocious than unwarranted cowardly attacks by members of groups that don't have the courage to stand up for what they believe in a civilized way. People have to be more observant and organized. Because unfortunately things are not as spiritually advanced enough to allow people to just be, and pray with each other in the way that most satisfies them. We will one day look back and realize that we are still in the infantile stage of civility. In order to advance we must protect ourselves from the desire to punish. Punishment has to be humane.

by: Tanko from: Abuja
July 05, 2012 7:08 AM
Yes this is a welcome development and good gesture in mending relationship between the two faith, but just a point of remainder we also in Nigeria at so many instances have done that,its just that we have to keep on educating our people on this sensitive issues and to be tolerance to one another.

by: Barbara from: France
July 05, 2012 5:22 AM
Oh, how cute... Islam - we must defeat this contamination

by: Rev:Martin Yoasa from: Juba south sudan
July 05, 2012 2:18 AM
Brother's AL-shabab, why are creating blood shed in the world? do you know Allah whom you said you are praying to? He will bring us all to the throne of justice. Muslims are Muslim.Christian are Christian.

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