Ahmednasir wrong on Government’s strategy to stop radicalisation

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BY MWENDA NJOKA

Last Sunday, Senior Counsel and publisher of the Nairobi Law Monthly Ahmednasir Abdullahi, made a number of fallacious claims on the Government’s efforts to contain radicalisation of Muslim youths.

On the face of it, Ahmednasir’s column, appropriately headlined “How to stop radicalisation of Muslim youths” appears pegged on a benign concern over an issue-radicalisation of Muslim youths – that is disturbing many; Muslims, Christians and others alike.

But reading further it becomes apparent that instead of offering the much-needed solution “How to stop radicalisation of Muslim youths”, Ahmednasir digresses into a blame game where he lumps all that is to blame for radicalisation on the Government.

According to the Ahmednasir theory of ending radicalisation of Muslim youths; unemployment, poor education, poverty and other social factors giving birth to disillusioned youths are “mere spin” used by the State and police to gloss over the problem.

In Ahmednasir’s lexicon, radicalisation of Muslim youths is a result of infiltration of Muslim organisations by the State. Really? I don’t think so. Why would the State want to infiltrate Muslim organisations knowing too well that this will cause radicalisation?

The State- or its Security Organs – has no desire or inclination to waste public resources infiltrating Muslim, Christian, Hindu or any other religious organisations engaged in legitimate religious activities.

However, it is a legitimate and cardinal responsibility of the State and its Security Organs to ensure that the country and her citizens, are secure from extremists trying to use the cloak of religion to propagate and preach hatred, mayhem and murder.

As the Government and many others have said before; terrorism is not synonymous with any religion. Terrorism targets Muslims, Christians and Hindus alike. As such, the fight against terrorism – where radicalisation of youths happens to be the sowing grounds for the demon seed – is not, and has never been, fight against any religion.

When Ahmednasir accuses the Government of creating a schism between Muslim leaders, he is missing the real point by several miles. The schism that may exist between these religious leaders is not the product of the State but a creation of the dangerous times we live in, where some individuals try to use religion as a veil to carry out murder and destruction of property, while others within the same organisations hold the view that religion should not be used as a shield for violence. That is the source of the split.

The Senior Counsel argues: “the absence of religious leaders (in Mosques) leaves room for younger members and the youth to assume a leadership role as was the case in Masjid Musa in Mombasa.”

To reduce the sad story of Masjid Musa to appear like a mere issue of “youth assuming leadership positions” (ostensibly in reaction to a vacuum created by the State!) is being overly simplistic, something that is completely uncharacteristic of the mercurial Ahmednasir Abdullahi.

Unlike Prof Makau Mutua, I hold Ahmednasir in high esteem and I have personal knowledge of the former LSK chairman’s capacity and abilities.

But one finds it hard to comprehend the intellectual basis of Ahmednasir’s contention that the State is the culprit responsible for extremism and radicalisation, when the very same State happens to be on the receiving end of that very same vice! Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Unless of course the State is suicidal and bent on destroying itself, a most unlikely proposition.

Another wild allegation contained in Ahmednasir’s column is the claim that “The Kenya Government has an unofficial policy to extra-judicially kill Muslim leaders.” Ahmednasir goes on to claim: “in the past two years, more than 20 prominent Muslim leaders have been killed by State security agents.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The State and its Security agencies have no policy – official or unofficial – to carry out extra-judicial killings of innocent religious leaders, be they Muslim or Catholic clerics. The State values equally lives of all Kenyans irrespective of their religious orientation.

After establishing a specious prognosis of radicalisation problem, naturally, the Senior Counsel’s prescription is equally flawed. He prescribes: “the Government must withdraw from Mosques and madrasas…”

The Government is not party to internal politics in Mosques and madrasas. The Government and its Security agencies interest is to ensure that all Kenyans – whether Muslims, Christians or Hindu – live in a peaceful country.

The best that Ahmednasir could do to help resolve the radicalisation problem among Muslim youths, is to stop blaming the State and instead point out the ills of extremism and radicalisation, which go contrary to the basic tenets of the Religion of Peace.

(The writer is Communications Director, Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government)

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  • john ngunyi

    In a remote way, Ahmednassir comes across as sympathetic to Al-Shabab. Any time he writes on the subject, he sounds like Mombasa senator Omar Hassan who obviously has a soft spot for the group.

    I really like his fearless and thought provoking approach to issues, but when it comes to Al-Shabab he exhibits a Kraal mentality like it is an issue of Muslims/Somalis versus the government.

    Is it deliberate on his part? I do not know but it is really sad for an original thinker of his stature.

    I like to think of Al-Shabab objectives as purely economic. They use radicalization of religion as a means to achieve their goals. It is an outfit similar to the cocaine gangs of South America.

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