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What does religion got to do with it?

Terrorists have severally tried to divide us Kenyans, to create ‘us’ and ‘them’ when it comes to religion. This was recently witnessed in the terror attack in Garissa that left 148 dead and more than seventy nine injured. They first shot the guards and after that they had a free play ground, they had the time to shoot the 148 students and watch their blood stream down the sandy soils of Garissa. They took people hostage, released the ones who could quote verses in the Quran and shot the rest in cold blood. I wonder what goes through a human’s mind when undertaking such acts. What makes one think that some lives are more worthy than others? Is it really the wish of Allah?

I do not profess the Muslim faith, but I have been blessed to live in the same compound with some of the kindest people that I have known who also happen to be Muslims. I have had next-door Muslim neighbours who had nothing but love to their fellow human beings, regardless of their faith or lack of it. We had discussions of faith, culture and beliefs and though they stood firm in their beliefs, they had a lot of respect for my different way of looking at life and religion. And often during our discussions my Muslim friend would excuse herself and go to the next room and say her prayers when it was time to, after which we would continue with our discussions over tea and Mandazi. The faith those Muslim friends professed would never condone such acts of terror as we have witnessed in Garissa. I have known many Muslims in my schooling and in my growing up who are heart broken by this terror and I am sure that I’m not alone in those experiences.

In Kenya we have our problems but religion has rarely been the cause of hate or killings of innocent people. We have lived in neighbourhoods where the Muslim’s call of prayer would go twice a day; morning and evening without anyone feeling bothered. The same neighbourhoods had Christians of all denominations going about their Sunday services in loud singing, dancing and jubilations and no Muslims or Hindu, or even an African traditional believer raised an eyebrow. They would hold their Kesha (night vigils) and drum, sing and pray as loud as the Holy Spirit would possibly guide them to and no one really started a war from that. That is the beauty that is in Kenya’s multicultural, multi-religious society and Al Shabaab should not be allowed to destroy this very strength of our diversity as Kenyans. So I raise my voice to defend my peace loving Muslim brothers and sisters and urge everyone to be wary of anyone putting people in a box. Terrorists are just that, and they should not have the honour of defining our understanding of the religion of Islam. I condemn the acts of terror in Garissa and ask the terrorists to find another excuse for their actions and not bring Allah in the picture.

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