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Saturday 28 September 2013

Kenya: Westgate – The Blasphemers and the Others.

By Fr. Kizito

I do not think that the action of the terrorist commando at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi reveals “the true face of Islam,” as I’ve read . I continue to believe, simplifying a bit, that the majority of Muslims are good people who want to live their lives in harmony with others but they are held hostage by a criminal minority who uses religion for political and economic control. A minority of violent blasphemers who have proclaimed themselves authentic interpreters of the Koran.

Muslims are in a phase of their history similar to that in which we Christians found ourselves in a not too distant time when we believed our leaders telling us that the American Indians and the African blacks were not human, and we could kill then with impunity. Or when, in times closer to us, the Italian soldiers obeyed without batting an eye to the order of killing in cold blood, in a few days, thousands and thousands of innocent Ethiopians, and no one, not even among the pastors of the Christian community, dared to question the military leaders or to raise a voice in protest. The Muslims who now live in societies dominated by political or religious leaders who advocate inhuman discriminatory ideologies are victims as we were victims. And if we do not understand their situation, we risk falling into the same trap of asserting that others, in bulk, “are all like that”, which is the first step when we want to justify the evil that we are planning in our hearts .

I prefer to think that their professing to be Muslims, their killing all those who did not know the name of the mother of the prophet, is absolutely irrelevant. So it is immaterial that the affiliates to Cosa Nostra profess to be Catholics and devout sons of Our Lady. They are simply criminals, whatever they believe and profess, and use their faith as a tool for their crimes and their hatred against their neighbor, and hatred has very different roots from faith in God. Samuel, a twenty-year old boy who grew up in Kivuli has understood this very well. One of his relatives, a distant uncle , was killed by terrorists in the first clashes in Westgate, as he was doing his job of helping the supermarket customers to put their items in the plastic bag, a job most probably paid something around 80 euro per month. Samuel texted me: Pray for my uncle, he was a good person. God can not be with those who killed him. They use His name in vain. We must build peace. .

Reading and watching what happened to Westgate Mall, I prefer to look at the dozens of people who instantly reacted by protecting their children, but also those of others, without distinction of color, or at those who have rescued other people, who have donated blood, who spontaneously brought sandwiches and drinks to the teams of the ambulances and to the soldiers. Certainly among those volunteers there were also some of my confreres, shepherds who have no fears of being contaminated with the smell, even when the sheep smell of fear and death. The victims and the rescuers – the testimonies are unanimous – have acted regardless of race or religion. These are the people that make us feel human .

Among them is Edwin, a member of Nafsi Africa, the acrobatic group based in Kivuli centre in Nairobi. That day I was in Verona, and I was about leaving home to attend a meeting, when a confrere alerted me that in Nairobi there was a dramatic terrorist attack. I opened face-book and saw that the drama had started one hour before, and there was already a message from Edwin :“Quick, let’s go to Westgate to donate blood.”

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