AL-SHABAAB’S militants inflicted damage again in Kenya last week. More than 145 people were killed at Garissa University located in the north-east of East Africa’s economic powerhouse. It’s the nation’s worst attack since the bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi by al-Qaeda in 1998.

We lovers of personal freedom, see this attack as an attack on people’s liberties.

The survivors of the incident tell horrific stories of what exactly happened during the attack. They say the militants were selective in their killing. Non-Muslims were targeted.

Whenever I read these stories I always fail to understand why one has to be murdered for not believing in Islam. I should be free to choose which religion to associate myself with, and nobody should deny me this right.

All these religious terrorist groups – al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, envision a world governed under Sharia. In countries like Pakistan, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, they fight against their secular governments because they demand that Sharia be the only way to govern their societies. Those who disapprove of their ideas are brutally murdered. In other words in their view, your freedom of religion is insignificant. You must choose Islam nothing else.

This attack, along with the one these terrorists committed at Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013, and many others we hear about every day, highlight a serious challenge the world faces today on terrorism. How this challenge will be conquered, I do not know.

WHAT IS KENYAN DEFENCE FORCE DOING IN SOMALIA?

This is the question many people ask. I guess because they think that had the Kenyan government not sent its forces to Somalia in 2011, last week’s attack and other attacks that have taken place inside Kenya ever since would have never occurred.

For me it’s hard to condemn Kenyan government’s fight against al-Shabaab. The government’s decision was a response to the group’s kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers inside Kenya. They easily crossed the border into the outskirts of Kenya to recruit young people to commit atrocities in Somalia. Like any government with the mandate to protect its borders and its citizens, they clearly thought they should do something.

What happens in Somalia affects Kenyans greatly, as much as what happens in Zimbabwe affects us here at home. Of course the situations are different and therefore require different responses.

Kenya is not battling al-Shabaab alone; Djibouti, Uganda and Ethiopia, all part of the African Union Mission in Somalia, are also participating in the fight against these terrorists.

Somalia should be a concern to all of us. The nation was without a formal government for more than two decades after the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991. During these two decades clan warlords and militants battled for control. It was in 2o12 when the new government was established and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected the president.

In an interview with eNews months ago, President Jacob Zuma was asked why the South African Defence Force wasn’t involved in the fight against al-Shabaab. His response was that his government hadn’t received any request for troops. Was he being honest?

There are some who argue that the reason he doesn’t want to involve our troops is because he fears that these terrorists will retaliate. They could be correct. Perhaps our government does fear that these extremists will retaliate.

I do understand their fears. Most of the countries that have participated in the fight against terror have endured attacks in the past twenty-five years.

When you send troops to a war on terror, make sure security is tight back at home. Because they will try by all means to retaliate.

I have no idea how we can win the war on terror. Because we are up against people who have nothing to lose – who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their evil cause.

Maybe the international community should lay back and do nothing. But that may be hard to do when you hear that a ten-year old girl was strapped with bombs and detonated herself at the supermarket in the north of Nigeria. Or that gunmen stormed into a school and massacred more than hundred children in Peshawar, Pakistan.

I hope these terrorists will one day understand that I have a right to life, and nobody should deny me the opportunity to live. I also have a right to freedom of religion. I should not be forced by anyone to join a certain religion.

What happened at Garissa University was violation of civil liberties. People were denied their right to live, mainly because they are not Muslims. This is unfair.

 

Phumlani M. UMajozi is a Professional Business Analyst, a Policy Analyst at Independent Entrepreneurship Group, and Youth Coordinator at Free Market Foundation South Africa.