"We are going to deal with these people ruthlessly..."
In a nation that is still reeling from the terrorist attack that killed or wounded well over 200, Muslims in Kenya are complaining of heavy handed police tactics in the ongoing roundup of members of Islamic jihadist organizations, as reported by both the Reuters news agency and the Associated Press on Oct. 31, 2013.
In the attack on Nairobi's upscale Westgate Mall last month that killed 68 and wounded 175 innocents, the al-Qaeda allied terrorist organization al-Shabaab essentially declared war on Kenya, which is one of the few functioning democracies in Africa, as well as arguably the economic powerhouse of East Africa.
Comprising roughly 10 percent of the population in the overwhelmingly Christian nation, there have been insinuations of anti-Muslim "hit squads" ran by the police in order to quash recruiting efforts by the Islamist terrorists, but have resulted in the intimidation of all Muslims.
National Muslim leaders are critical of what are described as "sweeping detentions" of jihadist recruits crossing the border between Kenya and the hotbed of terrorist activity in the al-Qaeda/al-Shabaab controlled south of Somalia.
In Kenya's second largest city of Mombasa, which is home to a sizable percentage of the country's Muslims, local community organizer Akullah Khamis accused the police of coming down hard on all Muslims, not just suspected terrorists.
Khamis believes the government actions are alienating Muslim youth and "are benefiting al-Shabaab more than they are benefiting the government."
The Commander of the Mombasa County Police Robert Kitur denied allegations that his officers have ever resorted to thug tactics nor that police have targeted the Muslim populace in general:
We have never been brutal.
People shouldn't generalise this is about Muslims. These are not Muslims, these are hooligans.
Not quite done yet, the police chief also stated regarding terrorist activity in his nation:
We are going to deal with these people ruthlessly.
We are just applying force when it is necessary."
However harsh the criticism of Kenyan police officials in their dragnet for terrorists, violence has erupted in the coastal city.
A Christian church was torched October 4th by a gang of Muslim youths after the drive-by shooting of well known radical jihadist cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Omar, a shooting some Muslims blame on the police.
Since then it has been highly suspected that jihadists took their revenge by assassinating Christian clergy.
In two separate attacks, Christian pastors were gunned down in their own churches.
The Rev. Charles Mathole was shot dead as he prayed inside his Vikwatani Redeemed Gospel Church. The next day, East African Pentecostal Church pastor Ibrahim Kithaka was found dead in his church outside of Mombasa.
The rise in Islamist violence has caused some Christians to call upon the government to arm them, not to go on the offensive against terrorist gangs, but to defend themselves if and when attacked.
As Lambert Mbela, one of the frustrated but stouthearted members of the Vikwatani Redeemed Gospel Church said:
Our many churches are not under any protection. They do not have walls or gates.
The government should issue AK-47 rifles to every church so that we can stop them from being burnt, our property from being looted and our pastors and Christians from being killed.
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