Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kenya - Terror spreads Tentacles

Religious terrorism has again raised its ugly head and this time, has struck bang in the middle of a bustling city in East Africa. As the toll of Indians dying in this Kenyan replay of 26/11 reaches 3, the total number of dead has climbed to 68 amongst whom are many of Indian origin as well!

Westgate Mall, Nairobi

The tragedy is somehow more personal as it brought back memories from the time I had stayed in Nairobi in a service apartment right next to the Westgate mall. It also brought back terrible memories of being holed up inside the house for three days when Mumbai was under a similar attack from Pakistani terrorists!! Kenya has a sizeable Indian population and the images captured from this incident could very well have belonged to any Indian metro!

This is how the incident took shape - Masked gunmen stormed into a crowded mall in Nairobi on Saturday and shot dead at least 68 people and wounded more than 175 in one of the most chilling terrorist attacks in East Africa.

The mall, called Westgate, is an impressive five-story building where Kenyans shop for expensive stuff and is also popular with expatriates. A cooking competition was taking place at the mall at the time, and hosting the contest and among the dead was Ruhila Adatia-Sood, a Nairobi local who was a popular TV and radio presenter.

Sood was six months pregnant and posing happily for Instagram photos in the minutes before the attack. One of these showed her with the popular Indian Radio-Africa journalist Kamal Kaur. Kaur, who was with her own two young children, said the attackers threw a grenade at the crowd before shooting. One bullet narrowly missed her son before ricocheting off a wall and killing another child next to her.

Several witnesses said the attackers had shouted for Muslims to run away while they picked off other shoppers, executing them one by one.  

Parents hurled their bodies over their children, people jumped into ventilation shafts to save themselves, and shoppers huddled behind the plastic mannequins of designer clothing stores as two squads of gunmen moved through the mall, shooting shoppers in the head. Hours later, the mall’s gleaming floors were smeared with blood as police officers dashed through the corpse-strewn corridors, trying to find the assailants. 

"Al Shabab", an Islamist militant group based in Somalia, took responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for Kenya’s military operations in Somalia against the group, which is al Qaeda's proxy in Somalia.

The Shabab, used to control large parts of Somalia, imposing a harsh and often brutal version of Islam in their territory. They have beheaded civilians and buried teenage girls up to their necks in sand and stoned them to death!! But in the past two years, the African Union forces, including the Kenyans, have pushed the Shabab out of most of their strongholds. The worry now, current and former American officials said that this attack could be the start of a comeback. 

Until the Westgate attack, the group made no effort to spare Muslim civilians, hitting packed restaurants, bus stations and a government building where hundreds of students were awaiting test results. And until his death in 2011, Osama bin Laden refused to allow Shabab into the Al Qaeda network, according to letters retrieved from his safehouse in Pakistan.

In a letter to Shabab in 2010, bin Laden politely advised the Somali-based fighters to review their operations "in order to minimize the toll to Muslims." Shabab did not get the green light to join Al Qaeda until February 2012, almost a year after bin Laden's death. In an email exchange this week with The Associated Press, it made its intentions clear: "The Mujahideen carried out a meticulous vetting process at the mall and have taken every possible precaution to separate the Muslims from the Kuffar before carrying out their attack."

In the bizarre game of life or death, they killed those who failed to name the Prophet Muhammed’s mother and spared those who could!! 

A 14-year-old boy saved himself by jumping off the mall's roof, after learning from friends inside that they were quizzed on names of the Prophet Muhammad's relatives. A Jewish man scribbled a Quranic scripture on his hand to memorize, after hearing the terrorists were asking captives to recite specific verses. As the gunmen opened fire with assault rifles, Westgate was plunged into mayhem and carnage. People ran out screaming, and victims soaked in their own blood were wheeled out in shopping carts. They showed no mercy to even pregnant women and slaughtered a young couple just two weeks before their first child was to be born along with the yet-to-be-born baby!

Time and again religious fundamentalism hits unsuspecting innocent people all over the globe. Yet, there is a reluctance among people to label it as RELIGIOUS terrorism and instead just use the latter term. I find it surprising that even in today's age of information and education, people are STILL unwilling to recognize this violence for what it is!

The attack has come at a time when several violent Islamist groups all espousing an anti-Western, anti-Christian creed are striking at state authority and international interests in many countries in Africa. The three Indians who lost their lives - Sudharshan B. Nagaraj from Bangalore, Sridhar Natarajan from Tamil Nadu and the 8 year old Paramshu Jain were all victims of a travesty that has NO PLACE in a civilized world!

The ripples from the attack reached as far as Trinidad, with a research economist called Ravindra Ramrattan named among the dead. The winner of a presidential gold medal in Trinidad for his academic prowess, Ramrattan, succumbed to the bullets of terrorists. The most high profile victim, and among the first to be named, was Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet and academic, and former diplomat. The Kenyan president's nephew was also one of the casualties in the dastardly attack!

At least 175 people were wounded or injured in the attack, including 11 Kenyan soldiers, and about 1,000 were rescued. Bodies were still sprawled on the mall’s front steps hours afterward, and woozy shoppers continued to emerge from the stores where they had been hiding to save their lives.


Whether one accepts it or not, RELIGIOUS TERRORISM is a reality and no one can just wish it away. And it's not limited to one religion alone; every religion in the world has practiced it at some point in its history. 

The Romans persecuted early Christians; Christians prosecuted Jews; Invading Muslims destroyed Hindu temples and killed Hindus/Sikhs/Buddhists/Jains in thouands while Buddhists in Myanmar are today persecuting the Rohingya muslims!!

All over the world there is growing intolerance for others' religion and ethnicity. Post 9/11, the suspicion with which every BROWN man or woman was seen in the US was scary to say the least! For a while it seemed only White Christians were above suspicion in the world! Many Sikhs faced brutality in their mistaken identity of being an Arab (because of their turbans) in US as well as UK.

More recently, when an American girl of Indian origin won the Miss America title, there were racial slurs calling her an Arab and a terrorist!!

And the grass isn't greener on the other side of this fence! The hatred of America and the 'West' has become so visceral in the Muslim world that their is complete REFUSAL to accept any responsibility for what's happening in the name of Islam! Any news that comes out of torture or destruction by Jihadi forces is immediately termed as American propaganda without any attempt to self-analyze what's going wrong with the Muslim youth.

Worst still, it may even be seen as justified on the premise that US has killed so many innocent civilians in its drone attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

But people forget that whoever is responsible, it is the INNOCENTS who die! You can't justify your vendetta of killing innocents based on a grievance cause by twisted political agendas. Let religion and politics be separate for the sake of our future! Just two days back, there was a blast in a historical Church in Pakistan which took the life of 78 people who were targeted by Islamic terrorists!

Victims of Peshawar's Church blast


This FUNDAMENTALISM should be recognized as a genuine problem if we REALLY wish to find a solution to it. Denying its existence would be behaving like the proverbial pigeon who closes its eyes and hopes the cat would disappear! It is disappointing that today's educated youth instead of following the true principles of religion choose to follow the extremist fanaticism that many believe will open the gates of heaven for them in the after-life.

If you can't even love your fellow beings and live your life spreading vitriol in this world, what guarantee do you have of even REACHING Heaven in the first place, let alone being happy there! 

The only solution it seems in current circumstances is to give less importance to RELIGION and more to HUMANITY! Denial WILL NOT give us Safety. Hoping for an open debate on this issue so that we can save more innocents in the future from such meaningless violence in the name of religion!

Praying for the souls of the slain Indians and people of other nationalities
May their souls Rest in peace..



Sheikh Shoaib said...

Whoever did it under whatever name, needs to be condemned & punished...I don't know how much they would benefit from this act, but they certainly would harm muslims the most..

Sajad Magray said...

the act is inhuman..killing innocent ppl may no way be justified...but d irony is dat every such affair is linked with Islam

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Sajad Magray if you read the article and the given links properly u wil see the link with Islam prominent enuff! The REAL irony is that even with all this happening people like you are still in a denial mode

Sajid Reshi said...

Every Muslim, who follows Islam will condemn these attacks.. Infact every HUMAN will.. I as a Muslim and a Human condemn such attacks, and so will all my friends for sure..
But what is disheartening is that educated people like you readily link it with Islam.. I quote from Quran - (Chapter 5 Verse 32 )
"If anyone slew an innocent person it would be as if he slew the whole mankind and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole mankind"
[Al-Qur’an 5:32]
As you can see, Islam condemns any kinds of innocent killings. I think the verse itself is proof enough to make an educated person THINK..
Also, I am not sure, if my dear brother Sajad Magray follows any news or not, BUT I DO..
What happened in Pakistan yesterday also happens in India (not that I in anyway justify what happened in Pakistan), but no one says it is HINDU TERRORISM that time.. No one said Babri Masjid was an act of HINDU TERRORISM.. No one said Malegaon blasts, Samjautha Express, Gujurat Riots were an act of HINDU TERRORISM.. No one says that killings of innocent Christians in Orissa is an act of HINDU TERRORISM.. or for that matter killings of Sikhs was an act of HINDU TERRORISM.. For that matter, INDIA - is happily waiting with its arms open to EMBRACE a HINDU TERRORIST as a PM..
Also, US has been bombing countries like hell.. So far, they have bombed almost two dozen countries.. They kill innocent people, but I never see anyone branding it as a CHRISTIAN TERRORISM..
Pause for some time and then THINK!!!

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Sajad Magray and Sajid Reshi the innocents who died were singled out for being non Muslims and then shot at! In Pakistan the people who were targeted were again NON MUSLIMS.. How can you deny the term when it is clearly religion which defines their behaviour.. Babri masjid may similarly be very well an act of Hindu terrorism and I see no fault in calling it that! In fact malegao blasts etc have always been branded as saffron terrorism and I don't remember anyone complaining about the term then! And on one hand you don't like to brand terrorism based on religion YET ur calling Modi a Hindu terrorist.. That seems like a clear contradiction to me!

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

The fact of the matter is that since religion has held sway over people there has ALWAYS BEEN religious terrorism in the world right from ancient times! How can you close ur eyes and deny its existence?? We have to call a spade a spade and stop hiding behind platitudes.. That's what real education means.. It is plain and simple terrorism based on religion. NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS

Sajid Reshi said...

There has been TERRORISM, but not RELIGIOUS Terrorism. A Terrorist does not have a Religion, but has an evil motive behind it.. If you call Malego, Mecca Masjid etc as an act of HINDU TERRORISM, I am going to deny that as well. Because they were terrorists not religious people.. If you mean to say, they were Religious, shall I infer, that you are saying - HINDU religion tells one to be a terrorist.. No you will never say that.. And even if you do, I WONT.. And you are correct, we need to call a Spade a Spade, and that is what I am doing - I am calling a terrorist a TERRORIST, but not a RELIGIOUS TERRORIST..
And talking of Modi - I still stand by it, It was a taunt to make you understand that Insane people can portray a Terrorist as a Religious Terrorist or can make a Hero out of him..
Again as I said, my heart goes out for the people who were killed in the attack. Doesn't matter to me what religion they belong to. The evil are hiding behind religion, and making FOOLS to believe what they want them to Believe..
Again, I cannot change any one's perception, but I will always hold on, what I believe is right and what is wrong..

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Of course u can believe what u want and I understand ur point of view.. But in my opinion religion doesn't always have a good effect on people.. RELIGIOUS TERRORISM is a reality and no one can just wish it away.. People get swayed MORE EASILY in the name of religion than anything else in this world and it has always been a POTENT source of discrimination and torture right from the time of crusades whether one accepts it or not. I have no qualms in calling it Islamic or Saffron or Christian or Sikh or Buddhist terror since these people kill and destroy BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! It should be recognized as a genuine problem for us to find a solution to it. Denying its existence is the REAL FOOLISHNESS and wil not help anyone.

Dhruvi said...

People need to understand that no one is questioning their religion but its perception.

Pearl said...

Dhruvi I agree....that kind of negative perception is put into their heads in the name of God

Mihir said...

But don't u think all the incidents happened in the past history are all about religious terrorism by one community? M not against any community but its a fact...

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Well the problem as I see it is that if you are taught from childhood that yours is the ONLY True Religion how will you ever accept all religions as equal?? You will always have the superiority complex that has been brainwashed into you which will never let you feel one with the other people of this planet! THIS I believe is the root cause of religious extremism and RELIGIOUS TERRORISM.

Gareth said...

Thoughtful piece. Nice work. Can see how you are spooked by it happening in a place familiar to you. Terrorism is terrorism though. Religious or not, people die. This attack, as usual, was by people who misinterpret religion for their own gain. I think it's more important to be good to your fellow man than worry about what a book says. God will judge my conduct to other people - not how much time I dedicated to prayers!

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Very well said Gareth

Sajad Magray said...

I think you have something more powerful than Religion to bring peace to this planet!!!!

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Yes i do Sajad Magray and that is LOVE! Love not just for people of ur own religion or community or region or race or language or mindset or any social class but for everyone on this planet!! And not just for humans.. love for animals and plants and everything around us!! I dont believe religion can ever bring peace! Its only LOVE that can save us!!

Ben Owili said...

@ Vineet , agreed..may be we join the Religion of universal love! But love is the most difficult thing to do ! What would motivate u to love that dirty street urchin or that lower caste or even Pakistanis, its only a belief that all humankind is equal and all life is sacred, that only comes from belief in God or Allah or any name you give Darwinism can not dwell in love but rathen than survival for the fittest that promotes terrorism! To love all one must believe in God. i do not believe God and Religion are the same..summary the problem is of terrorism is not religion but rather the absence of Love that can only come from God!

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Ben Owili i agree to some extent.. Love includes the love for God since it is Universal in scope.. but the love for religion and that too selective love for just one's own religion will only divide the world further and spread such hatred..

Anonymous said...

that's what they are fed from beginning...you talk to them and you will always feel they have a rage in them...against anything and everything that's not them...yet they deny...joke on Jesus and Hindu Gods and no one pays attention, we even accept the humour, but one word against prophet and they start abusing and killing...mofos are good in strategy too, one group does it, other denies and even condemns the act...and YES, EVERY ACT IS LINKED TO ISLAM AS THEY ARE THE "REASON" BEHIND EVERY ACT...not all muslims are terrorist, BUT ALL TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIM, if you still deny, PLZ EXPLAIN FIRST...just quoting kuran won't do anything, ACT according to it...

DemoN said...

i agree with the author here... terrorism in the name of religion is a real big threat.. politics entering into religion is the worst thing to have happened to humanity... a vicious few manipulate masses in the name of religion and have their completely nonreligious motives fulfilled. and those who are educated enough to know that this is not what religion is all about, turning blind eyes or worse getting into denials and blame game.
there is no religion in the world that teaches to commit crimes.. hope the people understand this..
in the end every religion is about reaching to a life of happiness and prosperity for all mankind, a God in its own image...for good. i mean when you believe in a religion don't you believe in the basics of it..those that say that it is God who creates all, destroys all, rewards you and punishes you. the concept of good bad, heaven hell.
if one fails to see his fellow being as equal, how can he/she claim be follow his/her religion? who gives a person a right to be God and declare another fellow being as evil?
There is an urgent need for all the people of all the religions understand the concept of religion, to segregate it from ones own desires and madness and to stand up and educate their ignorant fellow beings of the simple laws of mankind, of the religion of love and harmony...for at the end this is all what every religion teaches.

Yousaf Khan said...

Kia keh sakta hai banda bolty bolty to thaak gae ab kia kary eske liye kia hall hai eska

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Yousaf hal ek hi hai..that we start paying more attention to humanity and less to religion.. No God will ever forgive us if we keep killing in His name!

Saswata said...

IT IS RELATED TO A RELIGION, at least in this case. The author did not say that a religion is bad, but those who are exploiting it to brainwash youth are evil. Have u even read the article?
"Whether one accepts it or not, RELIGIOUS TERRORISM is a reality and no one can just wish it away. And it's not limited to one religion alone; every religion in the world has practiced it at some point in its history."
Further the author says- "This FUNDAMENTALISM should be recognized as a genuine problem if we REALLY wish to find a solution to it. Denying its existence would be behaving like the proverbial pigeon who closes its eyes and hopes the cat would disappear!" Do u oppose this approach? If Americans can protest Obama's intent to wage a war on Syria, why cant liberal religious people condemn these attacks and many more in the name of religious war?

Anonymous said...

Exactly, i agree with saswata, i know that majority of muslims are peace loving people and condemn these terrorist attacks in the name of islam, but why does no religious maulvi sahebs or islamic leaders openly condemn or educate for that matter against such acts??????
why there is no FATWA against terrorists???
In most of the countries, terrorist institutions are not even banned or blamed.........SAD but TRUE

Anonymous said...

when only one community suffers because of an act..( like one in Kenya ( recently) and across the globe) then yes it is religious terrorism.. Rather than saying this particular religion is spreading is spreading terrorism , we should ponder and try to find out the actual fact. that why people of a particular religion gets into all this. Whether it is due to psychological wash out that has been inflicted on him so as to use him by handful people who have and ulterior motive of disturbing peace or harmony or is it some genuine reason that a person is forced to take up arms in his hand. Rather pin pointing any religion I think its better we should look within our society and try to find people in needs or people who have been on suffering side of the cruelty of rich( politician beaurecrats) It would be better to bring about the change from within the society . I know its easy to say. But unless we take this uphill task soon, nothing will change

Unknown said...

Its a simple thing... US bombing dozen of countries... but they never say its act of god or related to any religious... but those terrorist do say they do it for god or other related to god. Remember the video from the terrorist of 911 incident? the terrorist did say they do it in the god's name. thats why they labeled as religious terrorism.
If they did not mention about religious or god... who bothers what religious the terrorist are.

Anonymous said...

@Sajid Reshi
Loved the lines of Qur'an you have quoted.
I doubt every Muslim follow the same holy book. But whenever any terrorist activity happen across the world in the name of Islam why not the whole Muslim community condemn it? I never see any big Ulema or Maulvis to start a 'Fatva' on such terrorists??
I am sure they are not following Islam if they believed in such violence in the name of Allah. Than why not even a single reaction. You only said Muslims will suffer from it the most, so why don't every Muslim come out and raise its voice against it specially your Ulemas who direct nonsense and cynical fatvas on other people. They can notice Sania Mirza's skirt but can see godamn people getting killed by the name of Islam.

You bought Modi into discussion. It like turning a blind eye towards Samjhauta Express. who burned Samjhauta Express. And let me phrase in riots both sides suffers the same. Have you ever seen a riot ?? I doubt that . My friend everybody fights for its life weather Hindu or Muslim. There was no genocide It was riot and you better remember who ignited those riots?? And Babri Masjid, I think the people who get killed in it were mostly Hindus. And let me rephrase Hinduism has been the most tolerant religion ever because It does not believe in supremacy. Otherwise a mare minority would not have been survived in India against 80% Hindus. So don't blame others.
You just remember one riot what about other 100 riots and there death tolls? Why they were forgotten? Because death toll of hindus were more so you won't cry for it??

If you really think it is nothing to do with Islam than come out in large numbers condemn those attacks. Protest against such terrorists. Its never too late. Otherwise a time will come when Terrorism and Islam will become alias by such perverts of society and no one will feel safe with Muslims.

Anonymous said...

I think that Religion are set of Rules made by ancestors so that people over the world live peacefully either by agreeing to those rules or by being afraid!!!! means that religion are people to follow and live peacefully!!! let religion control u. but today people are controlling the religion as per their need!! for example if god or allah or jesus or deities in any form have said something then plz like a lettr to u thru a postman thn read the letter nd adhere to that, in place y we r listening to the postman!! these pandits,kaazis,imams,fathers nd all who r they??? i think they r the postman and now in todays world they are manipulating thing for self greed. all these attacks any were in the world are killing the human race day by day!!! but if we talk abt india thn we can ssay hindu terrorism but wht abt rest of the world??? all are almost today led by muslim jehadis!!! sorry to say that but its a fact today!!!

Unknown said...

Hi Guys, my heart goes out to all the people who were massacred in kenya incident. I am sad and subdued after knowing that plenty of innocent people were killed, pregnant women were slaughtered, parents watched their kids and infants die right in front of them. May they all RIP. I am not a person who follows religion (i am a christian) in every step of life but, surely knows where to follow my religion and where not to...yes, i know that if a person has a belief then he/she should always obey the ethics imparted by elders or parents and should follow it/religion in every aspects.But i have a different perspective towards these ethics. Religions are set of rules which help people in having a good conduct in their lives. But, people often misuse it for politics,honor etc. It is a harsh act to force someone to follow a particular religion against their will. If you think your religion can help humanity then lead a good, prosperous life which will ultimately drive others towards your religion/to your lifestyle but Religion Terrorism (Christian TERRORISM, Hindu TERRORISM,Muslim TERRORISM or any sort of TERRORISM)is not going to help humanity rather it will lead to Destruction. Till the age of 15 i thoroughly followed my religion but after i achieved the tendency to differentiate between hurt and love i started to carve my ethics, which gradually lead me towards a genuine life i.e. i started to follow only those practices which were convenient for me or which i felt was genuine....for example....In Christianity, a christian must not do a/ participate in idol worshiping, should not have
food/eatable which was offered to an idol ..but i ignore these set of rules...why ? because the answer is simple...i love to see my hindu friends /muslim friends become happy once they see me enjoying/participating with them in their festivals (and next time they too come and participate in my festivals). The two way love for each other starts. God will not screw you for bending his rules if you have shared love and made a fellow human being happy. So know your religion and practice it in a modified way which should make you happy, others happy and you become a lovable person.

Anonymous said...

A religion that teaches you that there is no existence of any other God other than Prophet is the religion that creates terrorist. If you all really want it to stop and you really feel bad about killing people then make changes in your holy books and saints and if you can't then there is no point of debate, you people will kill and go to hell and will never gain respect in world.

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

Sam and Hanabishi.. completely agree!

Anonymous said...

Im muslim and im with you.. say no to terrorism.. islam is all about peace.. my condolence to the fallen.. for what ever reason, killing an innocent is not right. even if im not mistaken, in islam, while you are in war, you cant even damage a tree, or killing an animal without purposes.. correct me if im wrong.. thank you

-from Malaysia with love-

Kshitij said...

I know by common sense that no religion teaches violence but I would genuinely like to know that why every terrorist who are caught are people who have been misguided in the name of ISLAM????

How can a person be fed a fact that if they bomb or kill people they will be included in the good books of ALLAH????

How can only teachings of Quran can be twisted to breed terrorists???

Time has come each and every educated Muslims to better the reputation of their religion.
Serious literary reforms are needed. That is if muslims care for their reputation..

Anonymous said...

killing innocent people,child is crime as per muslim law
but innocent muslim are brain washed

mullah says kill kafirs
kafirs are actually ppl who opposes peace and brotherhood ie terrorist

or who didn't believe god(rules of peace and unity)

today also a good commentary on koran is not available.

there is huge thinking gap between arab muslims and indian,pak nd bangladeh muslim

ppl say hindu terrorist.it is politically born term in india

actually they r respond groupto muslims ,they r brainwashed

real enermy is political people and religious teacher,which make false deep impression on terrorism

i have one muslim friend amjad who says babri,godhra etc and says we have ti fight back and attack hindu.

i have another friend rahul,iitian
he says swipe up(kill) all muslim or better make them leave.

better become atheist,christian or some other faith
which can give u breath,freedom,education,science but no such religion

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal said...

I agree completely!