Kenya: these aren’t the Islamists you’re looking for

Seablogger Alan Sullivan wonders about the forces behind the political violence in Kenya:

At least thirty people — mostly women and children — reportedly died in Kenya when a church full of refugees caught fire. Of course it could have been an accident — maybe refugees were trying to cook, and something went wrong. Or it could have been malice — religious war. If a Muslim mob torched the church, the BBC will be the last to report the truth. At some point it becomes a vice to see no evil. BBC crossed the line long ago.

The BBC crossed that line with reports like this one, celebrating the Islamist takeover of an Uzbek town with the headline “Uzbek border town celebrates freedom”

Is political Islam a factor in the Kenyan elections? This article in the New York Times suggests that it may be

Unfortunately, even that investigative report didn’t investigate enough. At one point, the Times’ reporter:

….asked Harugura whether it was true that he was accepting money from Somalis or from fundamentalist Islamic groups, including the Kuwaitis and Saudis, and he shook his head vigorously. “You know very well that no Muslim organization can give a shilling. Even children’s aid programs have been shut down by the Americans since 9/11. No shilling can come from the Arab world to Kenya. It’s so difficult to even have collected 500 shillings.” Five hundred Kenyan shillings is about $8.

That’s not exactly true. According to this report, millions of shillings are still flowing from the fundamentalists to Kenya.

In any case, the Times’ most recent report, like most of the media, blames the troubles on ‘tribalism’.

Are Islamists behid the violence in Kenya? Well, if you have a few hours or days to spare, a working knowledge of the histories of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, a fast computer and a series of links to Kenyan blogs, you may be able to figure it out.

But if you, like billions of people out there, don’t have the time to do the research, you’ll have to rely on the usual sources – our Saudi-funded state department, Islamist funded MENA-region experts in academia and media outlets – like the BBC.

[cross-posted on Solomonia]


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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10 Responses to Kenya: these aren’t the Islamists you’re looking for

  1. I don’t get this. Why would those doing the killing be Islamist? Because the BBC didn’t say they were?

    Decode, please.

  2. mary says:

    I don’t know who or what is responsible for the killing, but I do know that the BBC has lied (or omitted certain facts) before, and therefore, they’re an untrustworthy source.

    This is why bias in the media is a problem. Some facts are reported, some aren’t.

  3. Then I really don’t get it. The BBC also didn’t say that the murderers were aliens or Satanists, so does that mean that they were?

    What does Islamism have to do with this incident?

  4. mary says:

    The BBC has a history of ignoring facts that are obviously staring them in the face. Most people rely on sources like the BBC for their news. Do you think the beeb’s coverage of Korasuv was accurate?

    If you read the NY times article linked above, (The African Front), you’ll know how Islamists were involved in the elections. There are also reports that Odinga allegedly vowed to enforce Islamic Law in Kenya.

    From Christian Today:

    In response to the revelations the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya released a statement in which church leaders said, “In both MOUs, honourable Raila comes across as a presumptive Muslim president bent on forcing Islamic law, religion and culture down the throats of the Kenyan people in total disregard of the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of worship and equal protection of the law for all Kenyans.”

    The chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Rev Dr Wellington Mutiso told ICC, “Kenya should continue to be a secular state. Christians want a level playing ground where [Christians and Muslims] are treated equally.

    “We [Kenyan Christians] are opposed to any move at favouring a particular religious group by political parties.”

    In addition, the ICC regional manager for Africa, Darara Gubo said, “This agreement made with Muslim leaders undermines the secular nature of Kenya and opens a Pandora’s box of chaos and conflict similar to what happened in Nigeria and Sudan.

    “This is not a stand-alone incident; rather, it is part of strategy to Islamize Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa, through the introduction of Sharia law.”

    The ‘tribal’ supporters of Odinga are attacking churches. By now, anyone who doesn’t work for the BBC might notice a familiar pattern, but since a large portion of the news is consistently unreported, it’s hard to know for sure.


  5. Okay, that was closer to what I was asking for. But I’m still a little unclear on why Islamism has been brought up in this particular incident. The violence could be political or tribal, an even if religious in nature, have little to do with Islamism and just be good old fashioned religious intolerance.

    It seems a bit strange to be jumping to conclusions based on such little evidence. I don’t even know if Eldoret is a town in a Muslim-majority area or not. And as the Muslim clergy is calling for an end all violence, I doubt that there is much that is sinister here beyond mob violence.

    The ‘tribal’ supporters of Odinga are attacking churches.

    Was there another incident at a church?

  6. mary says:

    Was there another incident at a church?

    I reread the reports – the Kikuyu ethnic group is being targeted, they are hiding in churches and there are hundreds dead, but there aren’t any more reports of specific churches being attacked.

    One senior police official as saying the events around Eldoret and nearby areas “looked very much like ethnic cleansing.” There are horrific reports.

    From what I’ve read, people who belong to the politically powerful Christian Kikuyu ethnic group (supporters of President Mwai Kibaki, the guy who supposedly stole the election) are being targeted by supporters (who may or may not be Muslim) of Raila Odinga, the Muslim who is promising to give special consideration to Muslims and Sharia law, who is implausibly denying that he’s recieving support from Gulf state chartieis and who claims that the election was stolen.

    This election violence is nothing new. According to this report:

    The area is multi-ethnic but traditionally dominated by the Kalenjin tribe. It suffered ethnic violence in 1992 and 1997 when hundreds of people — mainly Kikuyus — were killed and thousands more displaced in land clashes.

    Then the Reuters report says:

    The Red Cross video showed hundreds of people at Eldoret airport, which lies 20km from the town itself, who had been there “for the last few days, surrounded by 3,000 people from one ethnic group,” he added.

    It’s unclear whether the Kikuyu’s who are surrounding the airport because they want to get out, or if the Odinga supporters are surrounding the airport to keep Kikuyus from escaping…? When they get cagey about the identities of the ethnic groups, its confusing.

    Odinga, and presumably the rioters are from the Luo ethnic group. That’s where it gets (politically) interesting. A Muslim, non-Islamist Kenyan writes:

    First off, the ODM candidate has repeatedly boasted about his close links with the American political establishment. Even the idlest observer of our politics will have noticed that Raila Odinga is particularly chummy with the Americans. For lack of evidence, I will not go into the allegations of a deal for the establishment of Africom’s headquarters in Kenya at the minute, but even disregarding that there is every reason to fear your enemy’s friend….
    ..But that is not the end of the ODM leader’s obsession with the Americans. Like I said before, he boasts in his celebrated biography about his links with the American establishment, including invitations to attend Democratic party conventions. For those uninitiated in these things, the United States is really a one party state with very little difference between the two parties. The media may obsess with painting George W Bush as evil, but these measures started long before his presidency. President Clinton and Madeline Albright were for example instrumental in the death of 500,000 Iraqi children. Perhaps more incriminating than the deaths themselves was the callous fashion in which these deaths were regarded by that administration.
    Even more recently, new kid on the block and a close friend of Raila’s, Barack Obama has come out clearly to state that he would invade Pakistan if General Musharaf was overthrown. This was so extreme a sentiment that even the normally hawkish Hillary Clinton saw fit to ask Obama to calm down. And Obama is not a nobody; the Illinois Senator sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Yes, these are the friends the ODM keep.

    Kenyans see Obama as a messiah:

    Ordinary Kenyans are not the only ones who see Obama as a messiah. Kenyan politicians are already using his popularity as political capital. Raila Odinga, a Luo opposition leader and one of the top contenders for the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections, tried to portray Obama’s 2006 trip to Kenya as a personal endorsement. His supporters have created T-shirts and posters with cleverly computer-altered images that show Obama and Odinga standing side by side, arms around each other. This, too, has gotten some Kenyans excited.
    “In 2009, we might see a Luo president in Kenya, a Luo president in the USA, and a Luo ambassador in Washington, D.C. — current ambassador Ogego,” one Kenyan suggested recently on Africa Op-Ed, an online forum. “If there was time you had to learn Luo, it’s now,” he added. Such a possibility is imagined as potential salvation for a tribe that has been marginalized — politically and economically — since independence more than 40 years ago.

    There have been a lot of questions raised about Obama’s heritage as a Muslim, but apparently it is true that his father was from the Luo tribe.

    So, why is the press failing to mention the Luo – Democrat – Muslim issues in this ‘tribal’ conflict? You can draw whatever conclusions you like.

    I like Obama, I don’t think he’s an Islamist or a rioter, but I do think the admittedly Democrat-sympathizing press have reasons for being cagey.

    It seems a bit strange to be jumping to conclusions based on such little evidence

    That’s the problem – there is a lot of evidence out there, but it’s scattered all over the place and it takes a lot of time to find. The media is supposed to give us all the facts. They’re not doing their job.

  7. The media is supposed to give us all the facts. They’re not doing their job.

    It sounds as though they aren’t supplying facts that you want to hear, but they may not be reporting those facts because they are not relevant. It’s pretty unlikely that the mob that attacked the group in the church were Muslim. Comments from some of the killers indicate that they are Christian, and that the violence is based on tribal membership rather than their religion. Under those circumstances, do you want the BBC to report on all the religions that were not involved in the killings?

  8. mary says:

    Comments from some of the killers indicate that they are Christian, and that the violence is based on tribal membership rather than their religion

    I didn’t see those. Do you have links?

  9. I don’t have it on hand, but one of the killers was explaining that he didn’t mind violating the sancitity of the church because the people were hiding in it made it “a cave”, not a church.

    I’ll see if I can find it again.

    I’m seeing less and less indication that this has anything to do whatsoever with Islamism, or even Muslims. Odinga himself is not Muslim, and his tribal group is of the same ethnicity as the Southern Sudanese.

  10. Just out of curiosity, why do you think this is Islamist violence? Is it that single article? or was there another source that identified them as Muslim?

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