The persecution of Somalis: A Kenyan’s perspective

The persecution of Somalis: A Kenyan’s perspective

By Maryann Muchugia

The struggle still continues for the Somali refugees in Dadaab and Eastleigh in Nairobi. Life for the Somali refugees has been a living hell since the Al-Shabaab terror attacks started happening. If we can recall this harassment began when the Westgate attack in Westlands hit Kenya with a bang. None of the Kenyan citizens were prepared for such an incident. It was all new to us and came as a shock considering the fact that the last time Kenya had experienced such an inci­dent was in 1998.

After the Westgate mall attack that Al-Shabaab claimed re­sponsibility for, news about ter­rorism in Kenya has become the word of the day. All this being pinned on Al-Shabaab: a Somali terror group that is aimed at killing those who identify them­selves as non-Muslims.

Somalis living in Kenya especial­ly in Eastleigh are now terrified that aggressive behaviour to­wards them will rise in relation to the recent massacre of 148 students in Garissa University.

The police are discriminating those that are from the Somali decent. Maimuna a resident of Eastleigh says “I have lived here for about four years. But after the terror attacks I don’t feel at home anymore. I have to go to the shop with an ID to identify myself and avoid being harassed by the police”.

This can be noted that fear is what the Somali community have been trying to deal with the past few years after the Westgate terror attack. Life has not been the same for them anymore.

Jamal Abdul a resident of Githu­rai says, “I can confess that life has changed for us the Somali people. It even feels differently when I board a matatu with a bag on my back. Passengers look at me weirdly with suspicions of whether I am a terrorist or if what I have carried in my bag is an explosive. I sometimes hear whispers from other passengers in the matatu saying “mimi naogopa hawa wasomali”, meaning ‘I fear these Somali people’.

It was just recent a few weeks ago that a man was seriously and brutality beaten up by a po­liceman. The policeman claimed that the man was a member of Al-Shabaab just because he was from Somali decent. The po­liceman said that the man was a member of Al-Shabaab and was resisting arrest. The police officer was not apologetic at all about the incident and said that he would do anything to ensure that Kenya is safe.

The amount of ignorance that the police are putting in this matter to ensure that there is security is just wrong. They are affecting the lives of innocent Somalis negatively, going about arresting men and boys destroy­ing their future.

The Government of Kenya should pay attention to this matter and ensure that Somali refugees and citizens in Kenya are taken into consideration to ensure fair treatment to all and not brutal treatment to the Somali community. Just because Al-Shabaab are from Somali decent doesn’t mean that all Somali people are terrorists.

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