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Kenya

“Terrorists live among us”

Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, calls on Kenyans to exercise greater vigilance

After the massacre of 148 Christians at the university in the north Kenyan town of Garissa, Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, called for the nation to stick together. This is the tenor of a declaration of solidarity Cardinal Njue read out on 8 April in the Chiromo mortuary in Nairobi, which is where the bodies of the victims had been brought. In his address, which Aid to the Church in Need  has in its possession, Cardinal Njue says it is “extremely depressing that many young Kenyans have been radicalized and incited to commit acts of terror against their fellow citizens.” He referred to media reports according to which five Kenyans were among the suspects arrested after the attack. They are said to have supplied the attackers with weapons. One of the four terrorists killed by the police had, according to the reports, been identified as the son of a district chief in the north-east of Kenya. Cardinal John Njue continued: “The religious leaders should stop stirring up hatred towards people who do not belong to their religion and faith, and they should recognize instead that everyone believes in a higher being. “All people have the right to life and religious freedom and it’s not permissible to label them as unbelievers.”

Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi at Chiromo Mortuary, AA Third terrorist attack by  al-Shabaab on Christians

He called on the government to ensure the security of “all people in all parts of the country”, but he also called on all Kenyans to be vigilant and to pass on any information about suspicious individuals in their immediate surroundings. Cardinal Njue: “It is regrettable that some terrorists live among us and we do not report them to the competent authorities.”

The Islamist terrorist militia al-Shabaab killed 148 students and employees of the University of Garissa in the north of Kenya and injured 80 others on Holy Thursday. According to reports from eye witnesses, the terrorists selected Christian students specifically to be the victims. The cruel attack on Christian students is already the third terrorist attack by al-Shabaab on Christians in Kenya over the past few months. In December 2014 al-Shabaab militia went berserk in a quarry in Kormey in the north of Kenya. There they separated the Muslim workers from the others and murdered 36 people, mainly Christians. A month before they had hi-jacked a bus in the same region and killed 26 non-Muslims they had selected beforehand – many of these men and women were Christians. 

 

A very tense situationCardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi at Chiromo Mortuary, A

In view of the accumulation of terrorist attacks, Cardinal John Njue, standing by the mortal remains of the victims, called on the Kenyan government and security authorities on Wednesday to develop emergency strategies for schools and universities. “We must ask ourselves: How well prepared are we to deal with acts of terror?” 

In the words of the Coadjutor Bishop of the diocese of Garissa, Joseph Allesandro (O.F.M Cap) the situation in Garissa is “very tense” following the attack on Holy Thursday. According to him only a few people dared to go out onto the streets. The security precautions in front of the Bishop’s residence and the churches were very tight. After the massacre in the morning hours of Holy Thursday, the Holy Thursday liturgies had been cancelled in Garissa. Bishop Alessandro reported that the priests conducted divine services in Garissa on Good Friday and Holy Saturday with only a few of the faithful. On Sunday the cathedral of Garissa had again been full, “the people having overcome their fears,” the Cadjutor Bishop said.

Bishop Alessandro mentioned the good relations between Christian and Muslim clerics in Garissa. “On the morning of Holy Saturday the Chair of the Central Council of Muslims in Kenya came to us together with an Imam to show his solidarity with us.” According to Bishop Alessandro, there are a number of dialogue initiatives between the religions in Kenya. For example, Catholic schools were open to Muslim children and it was possible for everybody to take advantage of the humanitarian aid provided by the Church.

The Republic of Kenya is about twice the size of Germany, but it has only half the number of inhabitants. Of these 85 per cent are Christians and only ten per cent Muslims. One exception here is the east of Kenya, where Garissa is located. In this region, which borders on Somalia, the Muslims make up 99.8 per cent of the population. It is from here that the adherents of the al-Shabaab militia, a militant Islamist movement closely allied with Al Qaida, plans its terrorist attacks.

 


 

donateAid to the Church in Need supported the work of the Catholic Church in Kenya in the total of 20 dioceses to the tune of $1.2 million  in 2014. This financial aid went towards church construction projects in Kenya, mass stipends and other subsistence aid for priests and members of religious orders, as well as the training of pastoral workers and the acquisition of vehicles for pastoral work in this East African country.

 

 

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