Kenyan president urges Somalis to fight 'terror'

By James Shimanyula, Friday, March 28, 2014

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday called on the Somali community to fight terrorism, insisting his country did not discriminate against any religion.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday called on the Somali community to fight terrorism, insisting his country did not discriminate against any religion.

NAIROBI – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday called on the Somali community to fight "terrorism," insisting his country did not discriminate against any religion.

"Muslims are in the center of my government. They are highly ranked," Kenyatta said at a meeting with representatives of Kenya's Somali community at his official Nairobi residence, according to a statement issued by the presidency.

"We don't discriminate [against] any religion. We have freedom of worship. We respect all religious groups," the statement quoted him as saying.

At Friday's meeting, the president called on the Somali community to fight terrorism.

"It can't work that way. We plan good things for our nation and a few people use religion. Some use church or mosques to incite young people. That… will not be tolerated," Kenyatta aide William Ruto said.

The president added that his government intended to adopt several measures aimed at preventing "acts of terrorism."

At the end of the meeting, the government and Somali representatives agreed to redouble efforts to combat terrorism in the country.

Friday's meeting was attended by more than 200 members of the local business community, along with elders from Nairobi's Eastleigh business district, which is inhabited mostly by ethnic Somalis.

The meeting was also attended by parliament majority leader Aden Duale, Senator Yussuf Haji of Kenya's northeastern Garissa County, and Yussuf Hassan, a member of Nairobi's Kamkunji constituency.

Friday's meeting comes two days after the government ordered that all city-based refugees be confined to two camps in the country's north.

-At stake-

According to Senator Haji, the reputation of Kenya's Somali community is at stake.

"To finish this terror group, we ourselves have to come out strongly to rout them out," Haji, a former defense minister, said.

"These are people who live among us. We must do everything possible… to weed them out," he added.

Duale, for his part, said Kenyan security agencies would have an easy task fighting terrorism if the Somali community cooperated.

"We are the ones to finish and stop terror activities," he said. "We should identify which mosque incites the youth, which business-people fund their activities, and who harbors these evil elements."

-Cooperation-

Hassan Guleid, chairman of Eastleigh's business community, said the Somali community was ready to support the government's fight against terrorism.

He went on to assert that terrorism "has nothing to do with Islamic religion as [Somali militant group] Al-Shabaab wants to portray it."

"These criminals aren't Muslims," he added. "If they are fighting for Muslim's rights, why are they also bombing mosques, markets and killing innocent people in their own country?"

Lawmaker Yussuf Hassan, himself a victim of a terrorist attack in Eastleigh, said the Somali community was ready to join hands with the government to combat terrorism.

"We are Kenyans. Hence, anything happening in this country concerns us," he said.

"We shouldn't ask what the government is doing about this issue; rather, we should ask what we are doing to support the government in improving security," Hassan added.

At the end of Friday's meeting, Somali community representatives informed the president that they would draw up a task force – comprising business-people, youth, women and religious leaders – with a view to identifying those involved in criminal activities.

At the meeting, Kenyan police came under fire after Somali elders accused them of patrolling Eastleigh to collect bribes – not to enforce the law.

The elders also claimed that the Pangani Police Station, located near Eastleigh's residential area, had become an "auction, where Somalis arrested in regular operations are held for long periods until they pay bribes."

Responding to the claims, President Kenyatta declared that "action should be taken against the fools who take bribes and allow criminals to commit crimes."

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