, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 30 – Kenyan Muslim leaders and the business community have pledged to support the government’s security operation against Al Shabaab insurgents in the country but are warning against police using the initiative to harass their people.
The leaders who spoke at a press conference on Sunday said Kenyan Somalis and even Somali refugees were being harassed by security agents and the public on grounds that they are Al Shabaab suspects.
“We fully support the government, what they are doing in terms of cracking down on Al Shabaab is commendable, but we are opposed to any form of harassment,” One of the business leaders Mahamud Khalif warned.
“As long as the operations to get Al Shabaab is done without harassment, we will not have a problem, but we will be opposed to the government resorting to harass everyone who has Somali roots,” Khalif added.
He said since the operation on Al Shabaab started, even members of the public have been ridiculing Kenyan-Somalis and genuine Somali refugees in the country and branding the, Al Shabaab.
Some have even accused them of being behind the recent grenade and landmine attacks in Nairobi, Garissa and Mandera where five people including police and Education Government officials were killed.
“Whenever there is an attack you will hear people saying that is a Somali, that is a Muslim. This must stop because we too need dignity,” he said adding “it is tainting our name and businesses.”
He also said that some young Muslim and Somali men were “even being denied a chance to board matatu’s because they are suspected to be Al Shabaab.”
“It is embarrassing, it is not dignified at all. We are also Kenyans,” he said.
“We are worried because of reports that the head of Al-shabaab is in Nairobi and the tail is in Somalia. We ask the government to get him whenever he is. Al-Shabaab pose a major security threat to the region,”
Chairman of Eastleigh Business Community Hassan Gullet said and added that “We must ensure our children are not threatened in any way because the terror group does not discriminate tribe or nationality.
He said they fully support the war on terrorism but warned the government against victimising people of Somali origin.
“The truth of the matter is that Al-Shabaab are terrorists and we urge for unity amongst all irrespective of the place they come from. We all must be vigilant at all times,” he said.
Former Lagdera MP Mohamed Shidiye said the operation was long overdue as he supported it.
He said Kenya had been behaving like a landlord who sees a neighbour’s house on fire but fails to take action to stop its spread.
“This is the time we should have collective responsibility. War is won in mind and heart and we must support our soldiers in Somalia,” he said.
The government has announced it intends to carry out a massive security operation targeting suspected Al Shabaab insurgents in the country, following threats issued by the militant group which is being hunted by Kenyan military troops inside Somalia.
Kenya sent its troops inside Somalia two weeks ago to pursue the armed terrorist group which is blamed for a series of insecurity incidents in the country, particularly kidnappings of both locals and foreigners.