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Daily Nation : February 15th 2014
18 | National News VIOLENCE | Radicalisation of coastal youth can be blamed on State neglect and lack of opportunities Radical youth: Why we are not afraid of death Attack on Masjid Musa brings out disturbing trend among coastal youth BY BERTHA KANG’ONG’OI firstname.lastname@example.org several days ago. He was going to a big mosque F in Mombasa from their Kwale home to listen to Islamic teachings. He never returned. Fatuma’s son, Suleiman Ali, was one of those who died after the police raid on the Masjid Musa on February 2, 2014. Suleiman was 17 . This was his first time at Masjid Musa. “Suleiman loved Islamic reli- gious teachings,” says his mother Fatuma at their Muhaka home in Kwale County, about 45km south of Mombasa. Suleiman had travelled to Mombasa on the fateful Sunday with his friend. His friend was injured in the raid. “Some time in the afternoon, we got a call saying that Suleiman had been injured in the mosque and that he was really bad,” remembers Fatuma. “Shortly after, the same caller called again to say that Suleiman had died at the Coast General Hospital” Religious teachings Fatuma travelled to the hos- pital immediately, still trying to come to terms with the news. “When we got to the hospital, I saw my son, indeed, he was dead. He had been shot in the stomach and in the chest.” After some silence, Fatuma adds: “My son was not a terrorist; he just loved religious teachings.” Suleiman dropped out of atuma Swaleh is heartbroken and confused. She bid her first born son goodbye primary school two years ago, insisting that he only wanted to attend madrassa and not the formal schools. When he was not at madrassa, he worked on construction sites as a casual labourer. Fatuma’s other children also do not go to formal school; they all go to madrassa. A short distance away, still in Muhaka, is another bereaved parent. Salim Juma Mwagudzi lost his 23-year-old son, Rahman Salim Mwagudzi, at Masjid Musa. Rahman lived in Ukunda. He was the madrassa teacher at Busara Primary School. Salim says that days leading up to the fateful Sunday, posters had been placed in mosques around Ukunda and in Muhaka, announcing that there would be special teachings at Masjid Musa on February 2. “It is only later that I heard that the government had warned against attending the meeting, but here in the countryside, we did not know, we had no idea that the meeting had been banned,” says Salim. “If there had been more than religious teachings, I am sure my son had no knowledge of it.” This was Rahman’s first time at Masjid Musa as well. “My son was not a terrorist. I have brought him up, I have been with him all his life, I have never heard anything about extremism from him,” says Salim, breaks down in tears. “The government must have their reasons to be suspicious of the mosque, I really do not know. All I know is that my son was not involved. He had never even been to Nairobi, let alone ever leaving the country. When would he have learnt to become a terrorist?” Back in Mombasa, the feeling is a little less sombre. About 21 underage boys, arrested during the raid on the mosque, have just been released by the court. Their age ranges from 12 to 18. They are driven to the Governor’s office straight from the courts. It looks like a somewhat heroic finish to a long battle. Some mothers pat their sons on the back and call them shujaa — warrior. One boy, about 13 years old, proudly shows off the blood on his kanzu, as the others cheer him on. Another boy, 14 years old, swears he will cut into pieces the police officer who arrested him, if he ever crosses his path. Another one says: “Mimi nishakufa, nitaogopaje kuoza”(I am already dead, how can I be afraid of rotting?). They say they are ready for war. Disturbing words. Controversial cleric Abu- bakar Sharif, popularly known as Makaburi, works up some youths when he says that they have lost faith and hope in the police. 17 years The age of Suleiman, who died in Masjid Musa during the riots One young man, about 18, walks up to me and says, “we have no mercy for you,” before he pulls his friend away whom I had been trying to interview. The police’s raid on the mosque has come under criticism. “The execution of the raid may not have been perfect,” says security expert John Kipkorir. “But the mosque authorities are equally to blame. Had they restrained the taunting of the police with a flag that clearly had inscriptions of rifles, the outcome may have been different. At the same time, the right to freedom of expression does not extend to propaganda for war or incitement to violence” Kipkorir admits that this is, however, a complex situation, yet the police do not receive additional training to prepare them to handle these emerging threats. The hatred towards the police and authorities among these young men is palpable. They believe that they are being targeted for being Muslims. BERTHA KANG’ANG’OI “Events at the Coast, in the recent past, have been building up and leading to the raid,” says Kipkorir. “The disappearance and deaths of Muslim clerics and murders of police officers. With the recent raid, the situation is threatening to get out of hand.” The Coast is not new to this kind of uprising. The Mombasa Republic Council’s call for secession is still fresh. But while the MRC’s uprising clearly had an economic angle, the recent clashes between youths and the authorities do not seem to have an economic element, at first glance. “The economic situation at the Coast hasn’t changed much over the years, and that is where all these begin,” says Kipkorir. “It’s this poverty and lack of opportunities for the youth that first led to radicalisation, then some lives were lost, which further led to even more radicalisation and seeking of revenge.” A Unicef report shows that despite the impressive economic growth, Kenya is still among the world’s 50 poorest countries, ranking 145 out of 187. Inequalities are wide with the top 10 per cent of Kenyans earning 44 per cent of the national income, while the bottom 10 per cent of the population earn less than one per cent. Basic needs The preachers behind the radicalisation do not talk of or demand economic changes. They just provide the basic needs of the youth; especially food. While the government has nice poverty reduction plans for Coast, most of them are based on big capital investments like the standard gauge railway or the expansion of the port of Mombasa. These projects will not have an immediate impact on the small man. For these projects, most coastal youths would be hired as casual workers, to do the small menial jobs. “If the government does not focus on the youth, in the Coast and across the country. If there is no way out of the day-to-day needs for food, paying school fees, or paying for health, then the youth will inevitably be exposed to anyone who comes along ready with money to offer, says Kipkorir.” | NATION Mr Salim Juma Mwagudzi with a picture of his son Rahman Salim Mwagudzi. Rahman died at the Coast General Hospital of gunshot wounds sustained at Masjid Musa on February 2. SATURDAY NATION February 15, 2014 BRIEFLY BARINGO Governor bans use of county cars at night Baringo governor Benjamin Cheboi has banned the use of county vehicles at night to curb the rising number of accidents. Speaking yesterday after he presided over the swearing in of county secretary Stella Kereto and a member of the public service board Lesiaman Lengonop at Kabarnet, he said no vehicle should be driven at night. His directive comes days after county reps had an accident at night. MIGORI Three suspects killed as three others escape Three suspected gangsters were shot dead yesterday after they defied police orders to surrender. Police said they found a home-made gun in the 1am shooting at Nyasare estate. “They were on a motorcycle when they were accosted by police officers on patrol,” said Mr Joshua Opiyo, the Migori police boss. Another three, who were on another motorcycle, however, managed to speed away. LAMU Families facing eviction seek Timamy’s help Families facing eviction in Lamu County have called on Governor Isa Timamy to help resolve the issue. The about 6,000 families living on government land received notices to vacate in 21 days or be evicted. Maisha Masha, Mikinduni and Lake Kenyatta residents led by their spokesman Johnson Kitsao Ndokolani said they had lived in the areas for over a decade and want Mr Timamy to tell them their fate. EMBU Drama as woman’s kin clash over burial There was drama at Embu mortuary yesterday after a family clashed over the burial site of kin. They had turned up to pick Esther Muthoni’s body for burial at her enstranged husband’s home in Mucagori. However, he obtained a court order directing that she be buried at Don Bosco cemetery. The family said a grave had been dug at her husband’s place. The matter had not been resolved by the time of going to press. NAKURU Trainer charged with theft of valuable dog A dog trainer was yesterday charged with stealing a German Shepherd worth Sh60,000. Mr Samson Alwiga denied stealing the dog from Mr Johnson Kibunjia on February 7 at Nakuru’s Kiamunyi estate. He was released on a Sh40,000 bond. In the same court, Ms Elizabeth Wangare and Ms Elizabeth Mbugua denied charges of possessing bhang in Nakuru’s Kaloleni court. They were released on Sh30,000 bond.
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