Not all Muslims are bad. Some are even heroic, risking their lives to protect Christians.
Joseph Akwiri reports for Reuters that on Dec. 21, 2015, as is their wont, Islamic militants of al Shabaab attacked a bus traveling in Mandera in northeast Kenya, spraying the bus with bullets, killing two people and wounding four.
Abdi Mohamud Abdi, a Muslim who was among the passengers in Monday’s incident, told Reuters that more than 10 al Shabaab militants boarded the bus and ordered the Muslim passengers to identify the Christian passengers by splitting away from the Christians.
But the Muslims defied the order and, in so doing, put their own lives in jeopardy.
“We even gave some non-Muslims our religious attire to wear in the bus so that they would not be identified easily. We stuck together tightly. The militants threatened to shoot us but we still refused and protected our brothers and sisters. Finally they gave up and left but warned that they would be back.”
In previous attacks, al Shabaab has often killed both Muslims and non-Muslims. A year ago, al Shabaab gunmen stormed a Nairobi-bound bus in the same area and killed 28 non-Muslim passengers execution-style.
Julius Otieno, the deputy county commissioner, confirmed Abdi’s account, saying that the militants “were trying to identify who were Muslims and who were not,” and that the Muslim passengers had refused to help.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman, told Reuters in a statement that his group had fired shots at the bus: “Some of the Christian enemies died and others were injured.”
The 2014 bus attack shocked Kenya and led to a shake-up of security ministers. Since then, buses carrying passengers from Mandera have been given police escorts, but Kenya Police spokesman Charles Owino said that had not happened in this case because the bus had bypassed a police roadblock.
Al Shabaab has said northeastern Kenya should be part of Somalia, and that it will continue its attacks on Kenya until Nairobi withdraws troops from an African Union force fighting the militants in Somalia.
Kenya’s long northeastern border with Somalia is widely considered a security weak spot. Factors include poor coordination between security services, and a culture of corruption that allows anyone prepared to pay a bribe to pass unchallenged.